THE LAIR OF THE FLASH NASH

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THE LAIR OF T HFLAS AS

A cheery evening in the bar led to a challenge what would be the daffest racer? GORDON CRUICKSHANK

I. ntrigued by anyone who can make a Nash Metropolitan go quite so fast in the St Mary’s Trophy, I’m threading through the deep-hedged lanes of Sussex, convinced I’m in the wrong place, looking for CCK

Historic. Then, through a narrow gate, I spy a race-prepped Volvo PV544 outside some dark low buildings. Must be getting warm.

And the Nash is sitting in reception to greet me, along with Shaun Rainsford, CCK’s owner. He screws up his face as we admire it — “I can’t bear to look at it yet,” he says. The hot engine broke in practice and required a rapid switch for the racing. It bothers Shaun, who has a record of building rapid and successful historics, such as Roger Wills’s BMW CSL and his GAZVolga which was going absurdly well at Goodwood until the bonnet flew up. The CCK team grabbed a spare bonnet, sprayed it, drove it to Goodwood and fitted it overnight in time for the next race. Preparing historics doesn’t stop at the weekend. “We don’t specialise in any one marque,” says Shaun as we pass a stripped Cortina shell, a painted Volvo Amazon ready for a roll cage and a works lightweight Mini Cooper once raced by Handley, Rhodes and Hopkirk, as Daniel Lackey tells me. It’s his job to chase up

the histories, something that’s ever more important in this business. Shaun points to the Zodiac Christian Horner drove at the Revival, and an MG Magnette. “These two have been racing for 30 years. Tony Dron used to rally the Ford, and Julius Thurgood has raced that

MG for ever.” Historic historics, in fact. On the rolling road throbs the Vanguard Barrie Williams drove — one of six CCK cars on the St Mary’s grid — as they hunt the misfire Whizzo reported. Several Spridgets with Lenham bodies plus an original Sebring Sprite hint at another CCK

operation. Shaun bought the Lenham concern, and the CCK laminate shop produces panels for these and the Marcos 1800GT. CCK handles road restoration too — there’s a stripped E-type in the bodyshop. “And those,” says Shaun with a grin, pointing at a row of them by the engine shop, “are all the engines people blew up at Goodwood!” It happens more often with celebrity drivers, who maybe don’t know the machinery, he says politely. Shaun calls in specialists as he needs them — before the Revival there can be 10 people here — but in essence his outfit can handle everything from engine internals to dramatic sign-writing like the elaborate badge on that Volga bonnet now leaning crumpled against the wall. I didn’t expect was a museum. Here are Modsports Midgets that Shaun races, a Marcos 1800, John Britten’s

Midget coupe, Jim Russell’s 1956 and ’57 title winning Cooper 500, the Super Touring Mondeo Paul Radisich still owns, an Austin A40, and an MG1100. Shaun grins. “Those two are from the peak of Goodwood madness. We saw people winning with rocketship engines and we thought, well, if there are no rules… This A40 had a blistering engine and vented discs, and the 1100 got wishbones and coils all round! With John Rhodes aboard it went right round the outside of some of the big boys.” After sense prevailed at Goodwood the A40 returned to standard, bearing laurels for Shaun’s third place in the St Mary’s Trophy, but the mad MG is still active. “It’s a great teaching car because it goes seriously sidewaysrsays Shaun, adding that the museum cars still mostly work for their living.

A six-door Mini limo is proof of another CCK speciality — novelty at short notice. “Goodwood asked for that with six weeks notice — but we finished it.” Novelty drove the Nash project too, after a convivial post-race evening brought a challenge to dream up the daftest racer they could. The job was made easier by a Nash being basically an A35 in beachwear, so they could install an 1860cc B-series engine, A-series running gear with straight-cut close-ratio ‘box and racing Sprite rear axle. Custom springs make it handle while specially made wide steel wheels cram Dunlop racing rubber under those bizarre flattop arches. Since it began as a £1200 rusty ruin, one of the hardest jobs was sourcing trim for it: thank god for eBay, says Daniel. And on that hot engine it was going like a cheeky turquoise train, until… “But the story’s not over yet,” says Shaun.

Of course the Revival highlight was the Settrington Cup, and CCK prepared two cars for that. With their Austin experience they know just how to make those J40 pedal cars handle. Not their oddest challenge, though. What was that? Finding the right-sized coconut shell to house the rev counter on Thurgood’s Magnette.

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