Rumblings, July 1971

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Llandow.—Having devoted part of last month’s Editorial to Group 1 saloon-car racing it seemed imperative to spend Whit Monday (beg pardon, the Spring Holiday) watching the third round of the Ford/Castrol Mexico Championship, which was to take place at Llandow, especially as we had a Ford Mexico still ship-shape and Aveley-fashion, for the journey.

So we cleaned the hard-used orange job and set out, the traffic congestion never really troublesome, apart from a brief delay at the bridge in Brecon on the return run. We found the BRSCC racing at Llandow taking place in a carefree Hampstead Heath atmosphere, but each of the nine races commencing punctually and the frequency with which the competitors went past sustaining spectator interest. Llandow’s lavatory arrangements, however, find the Very-Black Accolade we awarded to Thruxton transferred to the Cowbridge circuit.

We formed the impression that racing Minis are unspectacular, because their oversize tyres glue them to the road, except over the Llandow bumps, so that they scarcely tail-slide, let alone drift the corners. Even so, several Minis left the course unintentionally.

The special saloons were not any more exciting, Churchill’s 1900 Escort able to keep very comfortably ahead of Mini Coopers and a 3.8 Jaguar. The Formula Vees didn’t impress, either, although it was a good race, in which Grant’s Austro SS contrived to fly backwards over a spectator safety-bank. Fortunately it flew straight and stopped before hitting the wire-and-paling fence, so the driver, who remained seated, was all right. But had Dean Delomont of the RAC been present we might have needed the sal volatile. The alarming aspect of such an accident is that there is a delay before marshals and firefighters reach the car.

The Ford Mexico race, over 20 laps, was the best of the afternoon, in our opinion, in spite of Barrie Williams, from pole position (44.6 sec.), leading all the way, for British Vita, furiously pursued by Butler in the Bower Engineering Mexico. Williams thus increased his lead in the Championship, his healthy-sounding Mexico (open exhausts are permitted), emitting much of what we feel we can safely say, without fear of contradiction, was Castrol-smoke. Behind these two came a tightly-fighting group of four, consisting of Marshall, whom the Tiran Auto Centre have borrowed from Shaw & Kilburn after seeing his Vauxhall efforts for them, Nick Brittan, Keefe, and McCrudden in a Reed Rallye Sport Mexico, the last named taking Roger Bell of Motor on lap five. Bell eventually retired (in practice he had made second fastest lap time with Keefe (both 45.0 sec.). On his own admission a wire had fallen off the distributor (race-prepared, of course, Mr. Bell?).

Behind this fast pair and foursome there was some close racing in the next group, in which the only girl driver, Gillian Fortescue-Thomas, was doing well.

It was a high-speed procession, like so many motor races, but the crowd obviously loved it. Ford’s Stuart Turner and Castrol have certainly thought up a most vivid way of promoting Mexicos and GTX…. It will be a pity if confusion over the modifications permitted (racing tyres, roll-over struts, minor suspension alterations and hand-assembled engines already allowed and a limited-slip differential used on one car in one race of the series) and the cost of preparing competitive Fords (at least £500 according to Motoring News, under £100 says Motor) wrecks an excellent idea. Meanwhile, our bog-standard Mexico motors magnificently—more of this in due course.