Copenhagen Historic GP 2019; 1st- 4th August

Well – the party started on the Ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland! Absolute Race Engineering, with Bob Juggins, Alex Hallett and Marty Bullock, Tom Smith with Kaelynn; and Jim and Jenny Blockley having an early night.

Next night for the Blockleys was the harbour carpark at Kiel Docks! – while Duncan and Mair headed for Dithmarschen, and the old farmhouse of Heinke and Claus Myhr, with T56 still under wraps, while Claus completes the restoration of his Maserati Merak SS.

Thursday, and across “the bridge” for a quick unload, scrutineering and turn around at the Bellahoj Park Circuit, where Blockleys, the ever optimistic Bishop-Millers with Autosport, Mike Gregory, and the wonderful original De Tomaso ISIS, Keith Pickering and family with Britannia, and Team Delta, were staying on site. Rebagliati’s headed to FJ U2 pilote Erik Justesen at Hellrup, and all reconvened at Jac Nellemann’s lakeside residence for a superb evening. He and Brigitta, together with daughters and granddaughter helping out, and contributing to the wonderful FJ family atmosphere, put on a tremendous spread outside, of cocktails and buffet, for all the Formula Junior contingent. Joining us was period Lotus 22 racer, J’rn Qviste, who is on the board of the CHGP Organisation. It was great also to see David von Schinkel and the Tido Racing Team back after his heart stopping moment two years ago and racing his Spider FJ. FJ drivers were in fact congregated from all around the world, with US drivers Sharon and Graham Adelman from Virginia, Robert and Holly Hoemke from Texas, Australian drivers Kim and Marie Shearn from Melbourne and Marty Bullock from Perth, together with Marc Werner and the Britec Team adding a German flavour to the Brits and Scandinavians.

Friday centered around the parade into town from the circuit, now no longer including the race cars, except that Jac’s own Alfa Dana FJ, constructed in period by his father, was fitted with DK registration plates for the occasion, and past owner Mogens Christensen drove this – overheating – amongst the Porsche’s, Jac’s XK 120, and Petter and Elisabeth Huse’s very period yellow open Mustang. Iain Rowley was charged with Jac’s Buick of the Bonny & Clyde era, filled with FJ drivers and wives. At the wonderful 19th century Town Hall we had speeches from the Mayor, local commentator, Jac, and the President of the Car Club, in the presence of HKH Prince Joachim, and Pro Am luminaries, headed of course by Tom Christensen. The main feature however is the legendary Copenhagen pancake buffet!!

Back for the 2.30 drivers briefing, and then (one hour delayed), the 20 min free practice for all the FJ’s.  Mark Shaw (Brabham BT6), Marco Werner (Lotus 22) and Robert Hoemke (Lola Mk 5A), all impressively fast, and less than one second separating them as they rounded together, with Petter Huse not far behind. Sadly it was the weekend over for the unfortunate Richard Bishop-Miller, after less than a lap with pistons gone, and for Christer Larsson, much better after illness, but bending the rear frame and denting the bodywork of his T52 Cooper, backing into an unforgiving wall. Sharon Adelman’s acclimatisation ended meanwhile, after one lap, following two others who had overshot, rather than turning left to follow the track!! Sharon was then unable to engage her reverse gear, stuck there for the rest of the session. Ulf Pettersson was out for the first time ever on the track, after restoration, of his Lola Mk 3 BRJ 33, not seen since 1964!!

Early start on Saturday for qualifying, and this time Marco Werner and Mark Shaw were three seconds faster, with Robert Hoemke only marginally improving on his free practice time, the Australian Wren just ahead of Jim Blockley in the drum brakes, and Nick Taylor as the first Front Engined runner, just adrift of past winner Iain Rowley having a run in Stephen Bulling’s Elva 300, which he had rebuilt a few years ago, and which is now potentially for sale.

Jac was out in his own Volpini, and Duncan was well satisfied to outpace both Mike Gregory (De Tomaso) and Sharon (BT6). Sadly Lars Jansen buzzed the longstroke BMC engine in his Elva 100 to 8000 rpm with immediate loss of oil pressure and his weekend was over. Poor Keith Pickering was reassembling the Britannia carbs, but ran out of time, so would start from the back of race 1, alongside Lars-Goran who also failed to make practice with no clutch, while Reijo Heurlin was in the familiar RV Special, rather than the Elhoo, which is still not ready. In fact, in his rushed departure from Finland, Reijo had left his roll bar stay behind, so one of his work colleagues kindly flew down from Helsinki with some peculiar hand luggage!!

It was particularly hot for the qualifying race, scheduled in the early afternoon, but already running late. The hot cars were sent off to the grid in two rows, but with odd grid places first, before the even numbers, resulting in some long delays on the grid while it was sorted out, and the cars all overheating to extremes. Duncan’s dial recording 120 degrees +, and poor Marco Werner’s Lotus losing much too much water.

Even then, the starter went through the ritual of 30s, 15s, and the full red light display by which time every driver and every engine were hot and bothered!

Petter Huse, who had already had starter motor trouble in practice had stalled, but luckily everyone avoided him, and a charging Mike Gregory locked up at the first corner, while Sharon also came through ahead of Duncan, but the unfortunate Lola Mk 3 expired at the end of the start straight with a loose nut from the oil pump in the engine workings!

Up front Marco and Mark were in full battle, but Robert was now somewhat adrift, Marty Bullock going terrifically in the yellow Wren, and late entry Kim Shearn also impressive. Keith Pickering pulled up at the second chicane, while Jac Nellemann (Volpini) had a drive through penalty and then pitted with no brakes, the glue having melted and separated the pads from the shoes!

Marco was now well ahead of Robert Hoemke, as Mark Shaw coaxed the BT6 home with overheating. Most noticeable result however was Lars-Goran Sjoberg finishing the race in his Cooper T59! It really is all worthwhile.

Colin Nursey was in his recently acquired ex David Brand BMC Mk I, but lost second gear and pulled in, while Petter Huse recovered from his enforced late start, getting past David Von Schinkel into tenth.

Sunday’s race was at lunch time, so the general Pro Am hospitality tent for FJ’s with delicious lunch and snacks, and live TV footage, would have to wait until afterwards. Again, despite assurances, the FJ’s left the assembly area with the odd grid numbers first but this time the grid sort out time was much reduced, the boards were up, and away with Jac at the back, starting in the Alfa Dana this time, instead of the brakeless Volpini. Unfortunately drama did unfold though, after only one lap, when Marty Bullock lost all brakes coming into the first corner after the pits, and caught Jim Blockley with a heavy glancing blow and sent the Caravelle 90 degrees head on into the tyre wall, and the Wren itself facing the wrong way, but eventually Marty did get going again behind the following train. The race ran on under the safety car for at least another two laps before being upgraded to a red flag, all the while Jim still sat in the car with what was later diagnosed as two fractures in disc L3.

Initially we were told that that was it, but a change of mind after Jim had left for hospital resulted in a restart in line behind the safety car in SC running positions. Only Marco Werner did not take the restart, a suspected head gasket gone and not wanting to prejudice his Oldtimer GP race the following weekend. Robert Hoemke was much closer to Mark Shaw this time, while Kim Shearn looked in good shape for a podium until another drive shaft failed, leaving a delighted Petter Huse (Focus Mk IV) to collect the champagne. Having restarted from the back, Marty did well to recover to 5th, but Iain Rowley had found another 3 seconds in lap times and was secure. With a couple of laps to go, Nick Taylor had to coax his Elva 100 home with its diff awry, but preserved for himself the Front Engined Trophy, ahead of Jac’s Alfa Dana. Duncan managed to pick off both Mike Gregory and then Sharon (BT6), but Sharon then powered past again down the pit straight, while just behind Duncan came a charging Lars-Goran, whose silencer had fallen off, giving a sudden surge of new power! Reijo also ended a very successful weekend in the RV special with another good finish, while “Doc” Lindberg was so enjoying himself, that on his solo last lap, having passed the penultimate lap just head of the winner, lost control on one of the bumps and ploughed into the barrier with damage to the front of the Elva chassis; what a shame.

Shaw, Hoemke and Huse took the main podium, all delighted, no more so than Mark Shaw with his Certina watch to boot!!

A truly enjoyable and hospitable weekend, and thankfully with much help and friendship from the Bishop-Millers, Jim had only one night in hospital and with full brace, (scheduled for 12 weeks!) the camper was able to leave the next day with Richard at the Wheel, and Karen driving the B-M van with Jenny riding pillion.

Jac’s hospitality for various parties, including some at his roof top restaurant, Piseri, continued on Sunday evening, before some headed home, and the rest on to the Nurburgring.