The talented eighteen-year-old New Zealand Formula Three driver Mike Thackwell has become the youngest person ever to win the top Grovewood Motor Racing Award in its sixteen-year history. Thackwell received a cheque for £1,000 from former World Champion John Surtees in a ceremony at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in December.
Second place, and a cheque for £500, went to twenty-six-year-old Birmingham Unipart Formula Three driver Nigel Mansell, while third place and a cheque for £300 was awarded to twenty-two-year-old Formula Ford driver Terry Gray, from Ashford, Kent, winner of the 1979 Townsend Thomsen Championship.
Special commendations went to James Weaver, 24, from Matching, Essex, who led the Townsend Thoresen Championship in a works Tiga for much of the year, until he was sidelined by a serious accident, and David Sears, 23, son of “Gentleman Jack”, from Ashill, Norfolk, winner of both the RAC British and the P and O Normandy Ferries FF1600 Championships in a works Royale RP26.
The Awards are made by Grovewood Securities Ltd., owners of Brands Hatch, Mallory Park, Oulton Park and Snetterton circuits, and judged by a panel of motoring journalists nominated by the Guild of Motoring Writers. This year’s panel included Motor Sport’s Deputy Editor, Clive Richardson, Rex Greenslade, Technical Editor of Motor, Simon Taylor, Publishing Director of Autosport and Peter Windsor, Sports Editor of Autocar. Their terms of reference, as always, were “To choose the British or Commonwealth drivers who in their opinion, are showing outstanding promise in the early development of their racing careers, having regard to the cars and facilities at their disposal”.
Dickie Attwood won the first ever Grovewood Award in 1963 and other winners have included Piers Courage (1965), Tim Schenken (1968), Roger Williamson (1971) and Tom Pryce (1973). Future stars amongst the runners-up included Jackie Oliver (2nd, 1966), Brian Redman (3rd, 1966), Derek Bell (2nd, 1967), James Hunt (2nd, 1969), John Watson (2nd, 1972), Tony Brise (2nd, 1973) and Alan Jones (3rd. 1974).
Thackwell, Hong Kong Junior Kart Champion in 1975 and 1976, only started motor racing proper in March 1978, when he won and set fastest lap in his very first race, a Formula Ford round at Brands Hatch. Driving a Van Diemen RF78 he went on to win another nine races, take five second places, ten thirds and set another seven fastest laps and win a Grovewood Commendation at the end of the 1978 season.
Last season he moved up to Formula Three with a works-supported March 793. This was beset by handling problems early on, but once sorted, Thackwell used it to great effect, highlighting his season with a win in the prestige British Grand Prix supporting event. By that time he had run out of money, but his career was saved from curtailment by Saudia-Williams team leader Alan Jones.
Thackwell hopes to move up to Formula Two in a factory-run March for 1980 and has his sights ultimately on Grand Prix racing.
Some useful services for racing teams and car restorers are provided by Hankoe Service Treatments, a Slough-based company started by vintage car enthusiast Ian McGregor and a certain S. Moss.
Hankoe is believed to be the most extensively equipped shot-blasting and stove-enamelling concern under one roof in SE England. One of their claims is to have perfected a technique to straighten connecting rods and other critical components which have been distorted. This so-called peen-straightening is carried out by bombarding the part with tiny steel spheres which are carried in a compressed air stream at pressures of up to 100 psi. Conventional shot peening to add strength to items such as crankshafts, con-rods and suspension parts for racing cars is available too.
Blast cleaning and etching of ferrous and non-ferrous components of up to 11/2 tons in weight will serve restorers who want a perfect finish on vintage chassis and alloy bulkheads. Glass bead treatment can be used for more delicate can parts.
McGregor, a former director of Allied-Polymer and a leading expert on surface finishing, and Moss hatched up the idea for the company while sharing McGregor’s impeccably self-restored 1933 Aston Martin on last year’s FIVA Rally from Paris to Turin, described by C.R. in Motor Sport, October 1978.
Sometime ago I said that I was under the impression that among the pre-war speed-trial courses there was one at Kimbolton Castle, Huntingdonshire. When such queries are raised in Motor Sport interesting replies often come in from readers — which is sometimes the object of making the comments in the first place. In respect of Kimbolton, Richard Wells called on a gentleman who went to speed rials there, and he has kindly sent us a photostat of the programme. This shows that in 1931 the Cambridge University AC held its Inter-Varsity meeting at Kimbolton. It was open by invitation to the Oxford University MC and to the Berkhampstead & District MCC. The public was admitted and those who think the VSCC insane for holding driving-test meetings in the winter should note that the date of this speed event was November 28th.
The motorcycle entries included C. K. Mortimer with his 175 cc. E. F. Jap, J. M. Muir with Norton and Velocette, and Mavrogordato on an OK Supreme and his Scott. The car contestants numbered such well-remembered drivers as R. G. J. Nash with his Frazer Nash, L. P. Driscoll with Lea-Francis and 30-98 Vauxhall, H. J. Ripley in a Riley Nine, Gordon Hartwell with his Aston Martin, A. C. Fairtlough with a Salmson and an Austin 7, D. G. Hopkins (Frazer Nash), Sir A. W. MacRobert, Bt., in an Aston Martin, Oliver Bertram (30-98 Vauxhall), Viscount Curzon (MG Midget), Alan Hess with a blown MG Midget, R. R. Jackson (Morgan) and many others.
This interesting fragment from the past came to us from the owner of the ex-Soames Morgan 3-wheeler, which was the subject of a long article in Motor Sport in 1941. He has been quite unable to discover from whom Soames purchased this very sporting Morgan, (that was in 1933 and the car had been raced at Brooklands in BMCKC events) so perhaps this appeal will bring in a reply from another reader. Also, in view of the controversy in the weekly motoring papers as to who owns the oldest runing Mini-Minor, Mr. Wells says he has the 67th Mini to be produced, Reg. No. XEW 583, which has been rebuilt, and he suggests he holds this honour. — W.B.
Ah yes . . !
Reporting on speeds checked with a radar-gun during last year’s 750 MC’s Six-Hour Relay Race at Donington, the 750 Bulletin say, that David Roscoe’s Alvin was as fast as the quickest Porsche through Red Gate corner (61 m.p.h.) that the 1300 Specials were 20 m.p.h. faster through the chicane than the Aston Martins, and that the T-type MGs were faster along the pits-straight than the VW-Porsche, where the pre-war Alvises were doing 71 m.p.h. for ten consecutive laps. Incidentally, a Lola driver who was timed at 111 m.p.h. along the straight was convinced he was doing 150 m.p.h . — W.B.
Wheel Cleaning Brushes
The tedious and painful task of cleaning spoked wheels is made considerably easier with the aid of the curved, bristle brushes we have been trying recently. They have proved a boon too for cleaning the alloy wheels of car long-term teat Mazda RX-7 and from the appearance of the spider’s web alloy wheels on our current road test car will be essential equipment for any Porsche 924 Turbo owner! These twisted-wire-cored, instruments are tough, flexible and adaptable and are available in two grades: medium for light work, and dusting and heavy grade for shifting heavy dirt.
Other uses suggeted include the cleaning of car radiator grilles, domestic radiators and antique furniture.
These most useful brushes cost a modest £2.00 each, post paid, from C. Young. Hunterscornbei, Dorking Road, Leathcrhead, Surrey.