Donington Historic Festival; ’58 – ’60 Grid Report
FJHRA/HSCC “Silverline” Historic Formula Junior Championship
For 1958-1960 Cars
Donington Park Historic Festival – 01/05/2021
The second event of the 2021 Formula Junior season took place at the Donington Park Historic Festival Meeting over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend. After an impressive start at the earlier Snetterton meeting in April, it was good to see a big entry for both the front and rear engined Juniors at the Leicestershire circuit. Several of the entries were making their first appearance of the season after the longer than usual winter lay-off. Among the previous regular competitors who were much missed, was Bill Grimshaw and his unique Moorland, so it is hoped that he and others will swell the numbers as Covid restrictions and concerns are eased further.
Despite it being the beginning of May the weather was cold but importantly it was dry. With over 20 entries for the “Silverline” sponsored Championship race for Classes A,B,C+F there was plenty of action all the way through the field, as well as a tremendously exciting battle for the lead.
At the front, Ray Mallock put his U2 on pole position just ahead of Andrew Hibberd in his Lola Mk II, only six tenths of a second behind. They were closely followed by Alex Morton, Condor, Nic Carlton-Smith, Kieft and Chris Drake in his Terrier. The next group included Crispian Besley, Cooper, Nick Taylor, Elva, Trevor Griffiths, Emeryson and Robert Goodwin also going well in the second Kieft. Trevor was pleased with how his Emeryson was performing, though the gearbox was a bit “tight” as this was his first outing after rebuilding it over the winter. This gearbox issue was probably a contributing factor to his spin at Redgate towards the end of the session, fortunately without contacting anything.
Unfortunately, Richard Bishop-Miller, in his Autosport Mk 2, had a serious problem with the “diff” on his first practice lap, and this prevented him from having any further involvement over the weekend. Graham Barron, Gemini, was also having trouble with a recurrence of his distributor problems, so he had to qualify out of session by joining the later rear-engine practice. Hasty work and helpful assistance solved the problem enabling him to qualify to start the race from the back of the grid. Duncan Rabagliati, Alexis, had to make an early pit stop as his water bottle was found to be rolling around his foot pedals! Fortunately, this was easily remedied before causing any problem, and he qualified well on the sixth row of the grid. Duncan was ahead of Richard Tyzack, Elva, Tony Pearson, leading class A in his smart Bandini and Bernard Brock who led class B1. A welcome addition to the race was the guest driver Andy Raynor who was going well in his 500 c.c. F3 JBS-Norton.
The front-engined Formula Junior race was the third event of the day and when the cars assembled the weather was still dry. Unfortunately for Crispian Besley, he found that he had a flat battery on his Cooper before going to the marshalling area. After overcoming the battery issue, he then discovered a clutch hydraulic fault which prevented him from joining the race at all. A disappointing end after qualifying on the third row of the grid.
When the race did get underway, it became a great race long battle at the front between Ray Mallock, Andrew Hibberd, and Chris Drake, who had made a fine get away from the third row. Alex Morton, in his Condor, also made a fine start from the second row. Unluckily he was squeezed out at McLean’s on the first lap, when having to avoid one of the leaders who locked a brake and slid slightly wide. Alex controlled the car well and managed to keep going through the gravel trap and re-joined the race though now down in about 10th place.
The three at the front exchanged places almost every lap with Ray Mallock generally leading early on, before Andrew Hibberd took the lead on lap 5 as all three of them crossed the start and finish line side by side. In 4th place, and holding on to the leaders well, was Nic Carlton-Smith driving a fine race in his Kieft. It took Alex Morton until the third lap to get up to 5th place, but the gap to the Kieft ahead was just too much to allow him to mount a challenge.
Bernard Brock was closing on Duncan Rabagliati, Alexis, when the diff broke on his Elva and he had to pull off at Coppice on lap 3 to retire. Graham Barron, after having had to start from the back of the grid in his Gemini, had a great first lap and was up to 10th place. The car was now going beautifully with the ignition issue fixed and Graham continuing to make his way through the field and finally finishing in an excellent 8th position and 1st in Class B1.
Behind Alex Morton, there was a fine dice for 2nd place in Class C2 between Trevor Griffiths, Emeryson, and Robert Goodwin in his Kieft. Trevor led until lap 8 when he missed a gear on his tight gearbox and Robert overtook him going into the old hairpin. It was not until lap 13 that the Emeryson was able to retake the position, at the same corner, and that was the order in which they finished in 6th and 7th places overall. They were also 2nd and 3rd in Class C2 behind class winner Nic Carlton-Smith in his Kieft.
Justin Fleming, Lola, and John Arnold, Elva, had a good race finishing closely together in 9th and 10th places followed by Jeremy Knight, Gemini, Peter Fenichel, Cooper, Richard Tyzack, Elva, Duncan Rabagliati, Alexis, and Class A winner Tony Pearson in his Bandini. The three remaining finishers were Andy Raynor in the JBS-Norton, Roger Woodbridge, Volpini, and Peter Edbrooke in his Lotus 18.
At the front there was no let up in the battle for the lead with Chris Drake and Ray Mallock frequently swapping positions and with Andrew Hibberd keeping a watching brief just behind them. The result was in the balance right until the end, with Chris winning from Ray by less than a second and with Andrew just a further two seconds back. An exciting race which made great YouTube viewing and one that spectators, when they are soon allowed to return, would very much look forward to enjoying.
by Graham Rabagliati