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The month in historic motorsport

Palmer to restore RAM

Circuit boss promises to revive his early ‘confidence shattering’ grand prix racer

Jonathan Palmer has bought the RAM grand prix car he raced in 1984 and plans to restore it alongside several other of his former racing cars.

Palmer, the boss of Brands Hatch owner MotorSport Vision, already has his Ralt RT3 F3 machine, two Tyrrells and the Ralt-Honda F2 he used to win the 1983 European title.

“The RAM is not in a bad condition,” said Palmer. “It’s a complete car and would probably run as it is. It looks pretty original and it came with a spare engine. David Mercer found it for me.”

The Hart turbo 1.5-litre car was Palmer’s first regular grand prix drive. “It was a bit of a nightmare year. The RAM has the aerodynamics of a double-decker bus and, with a full fuel load, it was a real pig to drive,” said Palmer. “It was quite a confidence shatterer! The engine wasn’t great—it had lots of lag and not much power. People these days have no idea how desperately crude things were back then.”

During the 1984 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch, Palmer crashed heavily at Clearways, the corner which is now overlooked by his company’s headquarters: “I’m convinced that something broke on the steering. Halfway round Clearways it went straight on. Niki Lauda wasn’t very impressed as he was leading by quite a margin when the race was stopped!”

Although Palmer has no great ambition to gather together all the cars he drove during his career, he does plan to get the RAM running: “It was character-building stuff. But I just had to be in F1. It was a very significant year; my first in F1. We’ll definitely get it rebuilt and running again.”

1000-mile revival

The 1000-Mile Trial of 1900, one of the earliest competitive motorsport events in Britain, will be recreated in October 2006 when the Historic Endurance Rally Organisation runs a classic reliability trial for pre-1980 cars.

The new event will start in London on September 30 and finish back in the capital five days later. As far as possible it will follow the route of the 1900 event, heading west to Bristol before running north via Shrewsbury to Edinburgh and then back down the east coast.

“A lot of the venues are still available,” said Peter Nedin of HERO. “The route will be as close as we can get it to 1000 miles.”

The trial will include regularity sections and special tests but, in keeping with the original event, no night sections. Although the 1900 event, won by CS Rolls, ran for nine days, the 2006 event will be condensed into five. If it is a success, HERO may repeat it every other year.

Rare mettle

A tough route and wet conditions left just four gold medal winners on the 2005 LE JOG. Most notable as weary survivors arrived at John O’Groats was a fourth consecutive gold for Jayne Wignall and Paul Savage in their Porsche 356B.

Other gold medals were won by the oldest car entered, the 1926 Bentley of Robert Abrey/Jurian Riley, the 1954 Lancia Appia of Peter Baker/Lee Vincent and by the Dutch-entered BMW 2002 of Renger Guliker/Pim Hart.

Despite tipping their Riley 12/4 Sports into a ditch, Roy Williams and James Ewing claimed the award for best pre-war car.

Group B at Croft

A sprint for Group B Rally Cars will be held at Croft circuit on March 18. The event, organised by the Darlington District Motor Club, gives Group B cars a rare chance to compete against the clock. By running a sprint rather than a rally, a wide range of Group B cars from the 1980s can take part, including rallycross and road-going versions. The organisers hope to attract a large number of Metro 6R4s.

The sprint will be over two laps of the Croft circuit and will run in parallel to a sprint for other classic rally cars.

Stratospheric

Steve Perez plans to run his Lancia Stratos on selected rounds of the British Historic Rally Championship this season, after campaigning it on the Roger Albert Clark and Killarney Historic rallies at the end of last year

The first Stratos to be rallied in Britain for 20 years, it is scheduled to compete on the opening BHRC round, the Robin Hood Stages. Perez believes that the mid-engined sportscar will be well suited to what is his local event.

Show Triumph

A special display of ex-works Triumph TR4 rally cars will be a central attraction at the Historic Motorsport Show at Stoneleigh in February.

The display will feature all three surviving cars from the 1962-64 factory rally team, along with surviving service vehicles. It is hoped that many former drivers, co-drivers and team members will also be on hand.

Scottish Classic

Scotland will have a classic racing festival in 2006 when the Scottish Classic Speed Fair runs at the Knockhill circuit over the weekend of July 22/23.

A central feature will be a celebration of Ecurie Ecosse, marking the 50th anniversary of the team’s win at Le Mans with an extensive display of team cars.

Promoted by the Knockhill circuit, the event is being created to feature more than just racing, with marque club events, air displays and track parades. Only four or five races are likely to be included in what is being planned as the first of an annual run of events.

Lifetime award

Tom Delaney, the last known surviving racing driver to have competed at Brooklands in the 1930s, has received the first Lifetime Achievement Award to be given by the Motor Sports Association.

Delaney, who still races a Lea-Francis at the age of 94, received the award from outgoing MSA chairman John Grant. “Its a lovely gesture.” said Delaney. “To be honest I think that racing has helped keep me in shape. Each time I get in the car I feel 21 again!”

Delaney has raced the same car for 75 years, and also ran at Donington pre-war.

Coopers head for Monterey

Around 25 Coopers from the UK and continental Europe will take part in the 33rd Rolex Monterey Classic at Laguna Seca in August as the marque is celebrated at the biggest event in US historic racing.

Rod Jolley is coordinating the UK contingent, which will include many of the fastest F1 and F2 Coopers in Britain. The cars will be away for most of July, August and September, leaving a major gap on some European race grids during this period.

“People are mad for it,” said Jolley, who is taking his T51. Similar cars for Sid Hoole, Barry Cannell, Anthony Ditheridge and Brian Jolliffe are all set to make the trip, while several Cooper-Bristols and some sportscars are also booked for the Californian event.

“Most of the cars are going to be raced, and the organisers are looking at a dedicated Cooper event,” said Jolley. “It’s a wonderful track and it will be phenomenal. It’s one of those things you only do once in a lifetime!”

The cars will also be able to race at the famous track on the preceding weekend, as well as over the Rolex weekend of August 18-20. Jolley is still able to accommodate more cars and is happy to hear from Cooper owners interested in joining the trip.

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