Oulton Park Gold Cup; 28th – 29th August 2021
FJHRA/HSCC “Silverline” Championship Rounds 7 + 8
The perfect FJ weekend; four days of sunshine in Cheshire, two fun FJ barbecues arranged by Robin and Sue Longdon, a sterling performance from 3 piece cover band “Piston Broke”, led by Dr Tim Child, as lead singer and hosted by 70s Road sports, together with a great FJ entry and plenty of FJ visitors around the paddock.
The full grid included welcome visitors from Switzerland, under Hall and Hall care, with Philip Buhofer in the ex-David Innes 27 and Stefan Jöbstl, not in his usual 22, but a first time out in the ex-Martin Halusa 20. Syd Fraser was taking care of his beloved and aged four-legged companion, so driver/coach Stuart Jones was a welcome substitute in the ex “Grand Prix” film 20/22. Barry Sime had been due to race Vern Williamson’s T3 Lynx, back on drum brakes, but last-minute problems with the conversion posted him as a nonstarter, however it was a welcome return for the Lightning Envoyette, which Alex Morton hasn’t raced since NZ, giving it a warmup before son Pete gets it back for the Goodwood Members meeting. Mike O’Brien had plenty of FF Merlyn’s to look after, but pride of place with Speedsport was Geoff Underwood’s beautiful red Dolphin.
Welcome visitors included Simon Durling who, whilst retaining his 22, has bought the ex-Bryan Eccles Cooper V-twin for hill climbs (not just to get up the drive to his house at the top of Shelsley Walsh!!); Tony (Lotus 18) and Ann Steele; Clive Wilson, admiring his ex, now Justin Fleming, Lola Mk 2, and bringing Grant with him (plus ride height measuring block); Tony and Elaine Pearson, giving the Bandini a rest before Goodwood; Leedspeed legend George Duncan who raced in the first F3 race at the ‘64 Gold Cup in his U2 Mk4 and later raced the ex-Peter Craven Lotus 22; Cyril Linstone, saviour of Emerysons various and himself a period 500 Emeryson driver; and Ian and Bev Phillips have nearly finished their French property renovation – Ian is missing the BMC and looks to return to FJ with one, or an Elfin.
Saturday morning saw a return to full scrutineering in supplement to the advance online declarations, followed by testing. Philip Buhofer, already with a two-hour immigration queue at Heathrow behind him, had fuel feed problems in the 27, but digging deep into the tanks by Andy Willis removed extraneous material from the rebuild and all was cleared. Peter Anstiss took Bob Birrell’s 20 out for a test, but sudden loss of brakes sent him into the gravel at the hairpin, and a team of helpers including Bob Juggins and Alex Hallett were working to get brakes, at least at the rear, in time for the race. There were no incidents for the rest.
Qualifying was just after lunch, and Alex Morton had a flat battery and/or defective master switch in the holding area, but after much fiddling was late away. The Hall and Hall team were also late out, still having their lunch when the cars left for the track, having read only an earlier timetable; much rushing and they both managed a couple of laps to qualify. Bob Birrell, however, did not manage to get out, so later did 3 laps with the HF3s.
Out on track, Adrian Holey’s Ausper T3 broke a drive shaft, while Chris Chilcott managed two spins, and to record 9th place for the grid in just one flying lap, only to rev the poor engine into oblivion in neutral as he exited Old Hall on his second timed lap. Sadly that was weekend over…
Championship leader Nic Carlton-Smith was experiencing overheating in the Kieft, and although fortunately controlled, the origin of the problem was not resolved. Also in Class C it was great to see our sole Period FJ driver, Jeremy Bouckley, going so well in the Peter Denty T56, now with ERSA gearbox, with Peter and Sue on hand all weekend and enjoying the camper experience.
Another scrutineering check after qualifying for (inter alia) points and then a full briefing for all drivers, with Andy D-C of HSCC giving a welcome, and an added reminder about the need to pull off track immediately if you have an issue.
Race one was second off the block on Sunday, but because of the Church noise curfew, not till a very respectable Midday: Robin Longdon was an unfortunate nonstarter in the Lola Mk 3; poor Robin woke up in the motorhome unable to move, and only a stiff injection from the circuit Doctor eventually enabled him to get up, but there was to be no more racing this weekend, and his Lotus Elite DAD10 was to remain on its trailer too.
Clive Richards, in the ex-Johannes Kistler, ex-Tommy Reid, 22 was clearly the man to beat, even showing Mark Shaw a clean pair of heels. When Mark spun before the second chicane, ending up on the short track, and then pitted to check that there was nothing wrong, the victory was assured, ahead of the beautiful ex Ford France 27 of Nick Fennell. In fact, poor Geoff Underwood was losing oil, and this was the likely cause of Mark’s “handling” issue! Others in driveshaft trouble were Martin McHugh in the iconic North Star Mk 1 and Adrian Holey, again: the other one this time!!
Mark Woodhouse was going very well in the family 20/22, and finally got into 3rd spot ahead of Adrian Russell, only to have the place taken away on the countback after Robert Goodwin’s Kieft left a trail of oil around the circuit, causing Philipp Buhofer to spin, which brought out the red flag with two minutes to go, fortunately ahead of any serious incidents.
Nic Carlton-Smith secured Class C, Martin Aubert, Class D, with Class D trophies also for Stefan Jöbstl and a beaming David Drew in the ex-Morton Ausper T3. Justin Fleming deservedly led the small Front engined brigade, having had their own outing the weekend before at Mallory Park.
Following the race, all cars were weighed at parc ferme.
All drive shafts were repaired in time, with only Underwood being a last-minute nonstarter after the Speedsport Team warmed the engine pre-race.
This time Clive Richards was once more in a class of his own, with Mark Shaw in the BT6 in distant pursuit; third place however was an excellent smooth performance from Stuart Jones, with Mark Woodhouse again a great 4th. Nick Fennell went out however, but at least safely, with a broken throttle cable.
A good battle towards the rear of the field had the two Cooper T56s of Jeremy Bouckley and Peter Fenichel pursued by a fast on the day Alexis, enlivened when a mildly off form Graham Barron joined the fray. Justin Fleming found no track left in trying to pass John Hutchison Jnr’s Envoy into Cascades on lap two, and spun on the grass, fortunately without contact, rejoining behind this battle. Eventually Duncan wisely dropped back from the Fenichel T56, which had started to exude an oily liquid onto the following windscreen.
Championship leader Nic Carlton-Smith kept the overheating Kieft under control to win Class C from Keith Pickering’s Britannia, although not without Keith having been ahead for a time, and Adam Sykes, a welcome returnee, coming between them at the end in the family Merlyn Mk5/7. Martin Aubert had also had to earn his Class win in D, when, early on in the race, he lost all gears except 2nd and 3rd. “Keeping Adrian Holey at bay was very very interesting, I had to work hard”. Martin finishing just 0.3” ahead at the flag. John Arnold’s Elva 100, ex-USA, was a welcome Front-engined winner.
The second of two jolly prize-givings concluded the day’s proceedings, while Dr Tim Child, a glutton for punishment, headed all the way to Castle Combe with a somewhat battle scarred Alfa Romeo GT to race there on Monday, in a race that had been postponed from the washed out second day of the Autumn Classic last year.
A really good weekend enjoyed by all on and off track, next Championship round at Spa…