FJHRA/HSCC “Silverline” UK Championship Rounds 8+9, Croft, 6th – 7th August 2016
CROFT NOSTALGIA MEETING
Entry & Qualifying
The traditional date again found itself sandwiched between Silverstone Classic and The Oldtimer GP at the Nurburgring –it was therefore remarkable, that 31 cars took to the track.
No real surprises in qualification; Jonathon Hughes modestly declared that the 1.5 second advantage he had might prove unrealistic in the coming races – right on the mark for race 2!
Jim Blockley having his first FJ race had the Caravelle Mk II in a very creditable 8th just behind class leader Pete Morton who in turn was within 0.063 of his Dad, Alex!
Taking a close interest in all the FJ cars was Graham Birrell (also Scottish but no relation). Graham with his ultra-talented brother Gerry was a star of Scottish Club Racing in the early 60s – Charterhall, Bo’ness etc – I don’t think he raced in FJ but he certainly drove the Ecurie Ecosse Imp engine single seater which Vern Williamson now owns – he also starred in F2 with the Ecurie Ecosse Brabham BT30 and the DART Chevron B19 with John Miles.
A true star who retains a close interest in Historic Racing – can’t persuade him into FJ – Yet – I’ve tried!
A clean and prompt start – The HSCC Clerk of Course Julian Floyd is mindful that our cars don’t suit hanging around waiting for the off – so he and the starter make sure things get underway with minimum delay – great stuff Julian – Dijon please note!
The 2 Brabhams were side by side through the first 2 corners before Hughes eased a little space from Jackson – both driving superbly.
At the other end of the grid, stand in driver Tom Smith in Vern’s Ausper T4, suffered a broken UJ off the grid – end of mission – stand down.
On lap 2 Jackson had half a spin – not a real proper spin but just enough to break the tow and allow Hughes to escape – by lap 5 the gap had grown to 5 seconds.
Others made a real job of spinning – Andy Harrison (Envoy) at the Hairpin on lap 2, Bill Grimshaw (Moorland) same place lap 8 leaving John Sykes in the Merlyn Mk2 (having its first race since 1961) in the lead of the Front Engined Class.
New Zealand FJ Supremo Nigel Russell performed a demon outbraking pass on Graham Barron’s Gemini at Tower – when congratulated on the move after the race, he claimed that the outbraking was caused by brake failure – not sure about that – it looked like a great move and he stayed ahead!
Mortons ‘Pere & Fils’ had a great battle – Jonathan Fyda, lacking his parent today joined in – sadly Morton Minor’s Ausper expired on the last lap ruining a great scrap.
Tony Olissoff had a moment of high drama at the Complex when his rear suspension broke allowing the Left Hand Rear Wheel to tuck under – spectacular – but unfortunately meaning withdrawal from the Oldtimer GP the following week.
Crispian Besley (relieved of Beer Provision for the day since Andrew Thorpe was providing in lieu of Oil) dominated Class 2 from Chris Alford and Andy Harrison.
Martin McHugh having his first race drove neatly in the ex-Jeremy Bouckley North Star an immaculately presented and well-engineered one off car which hasn’t been seen regularly for some time.
Back at the sharp end, Hughes steadily increased his lead to 18 seconds at the flag. Andrew Garside had a skilful but lonely race to 3rd place having seen off an early challenge from Peter Anstiss (OiC Tea Urn for the weekend). Towards the end Steve Jones was on the move and his last lap was a flyer (Pun intended) in the drag race from Hairpin to Flag, Steve eased 4th by a margin of 0.030 seconds – great stuff.
Sadly a few non starters – Alex Morton gallantly stood down in favour of Pete whose Ausper was Hors de Combat – Pete had to start at the back of the field as per regulations – we were also missing John Rees and Tom Smith despite valiant efforts from Vern Williamson & team. Also Steve Jones due to oil pressure worries
If we were expecting a rerun of Race 1 – we were well off beam – Hughes led off the line but this time Jackson hung on – for the entire race – they were so close – it could have so easily ended in tears –just a moment’s rashness was all it might take – wrong again – both drove superbly – very hard but very fair – inches in it all the way –up the front straight, Jackson gave Hughes’ gearbox close examination making a supreme attempt into Tower – on the penultimate lap Jackson on the inside line for the Hairpin eased slightly ahead but Hughes regained the lead as they approached the line – At the finish, Hughes made it by 0.167 Secs after a display by both drivers of all that is best in Racing and Formula Junior in particular – greatly admired and not a few of us wished we could drive so fast and so well – a wonderful advertisement for Formula Junior –just imagine how it would have been with Andrew Hibberd & Sam Wilson in the mix as well!
Hey let’s not forget the rest of the race – highlight of which was undoubtedly Pete Morton’s great drive, back in the reigns of the Lightning Envoyette, from the back to 3rd place – displacing Andrew Garside on the last lap.
Robin Longdon (Lola Mk5A), Jonathan Fyda and Jim Blockley (in the Caravelle) had an entertaining dice before resolving in that order, Fyda securing class D2 honours by 1 second from the Caravelle.
In the front engine class, John Sykes again won from Bill Grimshaw and Nigel Russell in the unique NZ built FMZ – a great effort.
Croft has found a special place with us – we are always made to feel really welcome – this time being allocated almost all the pit garages thus allowing Peter Anstiss’ Tea Urn full reign – well done Sarah whose idea it was and the ladies who provided lots of goodies – mostly on my forbidden list – but the tea was most welcome.
By Bob Birrell