Fast becoming one of the highlights of the racing calender is the two day HSCC meeting held on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. There is so much variety which, allied to a full programme of races and generally very good grids makes it just the sort of meeting to take non-enthusiast friends for a first taste of the sport. It was unfortunate that the rains came on the Saturday but if you’re going to be at a wet meeting, Brands Hatch is more pleasant a place to be than most circuits.
Practice on Saturday had been in the wet but the weather eased just a little for a joint ten tapper for thoroughbred Sports and, forty seconds later, MG T Types. Denis Welch’s Austin Healey 100/6 led initially and it required hard driving by Mike Salmon, David Heynes and Ian Moss, all in Aston Martin DB4s to force Welch down to fourth. Salmon and Welch both won their respective classes, as did Martin Harvey (Aston Martin GB 2/41 and Jem Marsh (Marcos).
Ron Gammons (MG TF) and Dave Clewley (MG TB) diced for the lead of the second, simultaneous, race (MGCC T Register) but Clewley slowed on the seventh lap and Gammons was able to take an easy win. Ron’s son, Malcolm. brought his TF home fourth overall (a lap down on father) to win the Standard class.
Formula Junior seems to be enjoying a revival in Britain, as it is on the Continent. John Fenning was quick in this class of car first time around and he has lost none of his cunning. He made a poor start in his Lola Mk5A but took the lead from Alan Baillie’s Lola Mk5 as they crossed the start / finish line at the end of the first lap. Thereafter Fenning was not headed.
The results of the Pre ’60 Historic Sports Car races read: 1, David Ham (Lister-Jaguar); 2, Denis Welch (Austin Healey); 3. Mike Freeman (Lister-Jaguar); the only trouble is that the results also record that just three laps were covered from a scheduled ten. Freeman had a quick spin first time through Druids and had to wait until most runners had passed before re-starting, whereupon he sliced his way rapidly up through the field, crossing the line in third place at the end of lap two. Meanwhile Welch harried Ham, taking him at Druids on lap three. As he crossed the line at the end of that lay, Ham was still close behind but Freeman came storming through. Perhaps Welch thought that Ham was trying lore-take him, whatever the reason he left his braking a little too late for Paddock with the result he braked a little too hard. His car snapped to the left, hit the tyre wall which broke apart, was caterpulted back into the middle of the track and was hit by Ham’s Lister which then buried its nose in the armco on the infield. Nobody was hurt but it took so long to clear the debris that the race was abandoned and the positions at the end of lap three stood as the results.
With the Atlantic Computers GT Championship being divided into two, we are able to concentrate more fully now on the gaggle of Chevrons which always provide such good entertainment in the two litre class. Featured in this event was a wonderful dice for the lead between Simon Hadfield (86) and Frank Sytner (B8). Hadfield harried Sytner on a very wet track until the ninth time through Graham Hill Bend when Sytner appeared to miss a gear, went wide and allowed Hadfield through.
The track was still very wet when the two dozen entries in the Seldon Pre ’71 Single Seater field took to the track Failing light and the delay after the Welch accident caused this, and the following races, lobe shorted by three laps apiece. The Foulstons had a poor time of this, Mary’s Lotus 72 stalling on the grid and John’s McLaren M19 coming off at Graham Hill (in the lead) on the first lap of seven, damaging itself lightly against a barrier This allowed James Wallis a clear run in his MCLaren M19 and he drove sensibly to take a clear win. John Bryning had been unable to take the start from the front row place for which he had qualified his F2 Brabham BT35 but he worked his way up through the field to apparently dead heat with Mike Pendlebury’s Lotus 69 for second The judges gave the place to Pendlebury but it was very close Richard Matlock brought out the F2 U2 Mk 6B with which his father. Arthur. had had some decent results in 1967 and brought the little car home fifth. behind Martin Steele’s March 702 but ahead of the F5000 Lola T300 of Alex Seldon. Simon Ford’s Europa made a good start from the front row in the John Lelliott Post Historic Road Sports race, but then undid the good work by spinning in front of the field at paddock Fortunately everyone got by. First Roger Connel (TVR Griffith) took the lead, then Richard Ball (Elan) moved ahead but when Tim Sisson (E Type) put on the pressure, Ball stepped aside. Then Sisson came off at Druids and Ball was back in front until lap five when David Chaney’s Marcos hit the front and stayed there from Ball and Paul Weldon’s TVR Tuscan which demoted Connel’s Griffith to fourth place on lap six.
Foulston and Wallis both had McLarens out for the seventh race but this time they were Can-Am cars and it was for 12 laps of Atlantic Computers Historic GT Championship (senior division). Wallis (MBE) made the best start and led Foulston (M8D). John Brindley (M8C) and Martin Colvill (Lola T222). Colvill spun at Druids and split the field up a little. while Foulston took just two laps to take the lead from Wallis. Once Foulston was by, Brindley shot by as well and closed up on his team mate but seemed unable, or unwilling, to pass him. Wallis had a couple of moments but came back at the leading pair and, later. Brindley’s car developed a misfire. Foulston led Brindley home by less than four seconds with Wallis five seconds adrift.
Richard Eyre (Chevron B19) finished fourth overall and won his class narrowly from Richard Budge (B19) and the remaining classes were taken by Mike Wheatley (BRM P154) and Nigel Hulme (Lola 170 MkIIIB).
The day ended with a fiercely-fought non-Championship race for Pre ’65 Saloons which was dominated by Lotus Cortinas Phil Wight won by ten seconds in his example after a dreadful start while Colin Woodcock, Hugh Marshall and Chris Boon brought their examples home close together but ten seconds behind Wight. There were a number of close dices down the field, too.
Sunday saw much better weather but no great increase in the size of the crowd, which was a pity The first race. for Pre ’65 Grand Prix Cars, brought out a small and varied field but, alas, no great excitement though Frank Lockhart’s 1948 Rover Special came close to pipping Jim Fitzgerald’s 1960/61 JBW-Climax. The race was won by Mike Freeman (Brabham BT14) from John Brindley (Brabham BT10). The Formula Juniors were out next, this time for the FISA Trophy race. Alan Baillie (Lola) managed to ward off John Fenning (Lola) for three laps but Fenning forged ahead for his second win of the weekend. Baillie then had a scrap with Roy Drew (Cooper) while squabbling over fourth were the Lotuses of Urs Eberhardt (Mk 27) and Malcolm Ricketts (Mk 22). Peter Walker finished sixth in his Lola Mk 1, easily the quickest sports car, while there was a spirited dice for the next three places (and first three in the front-engined FJ class) between Mike Harrison (U2), Tony Steele (Lola) and Lawrence Sufryn (Terrier) It was splendid stuff and the battles extended right down the field.
Mike Littlewood powered away in his Elva 70 at the start of the Classic Sports Car Championship race and after some initial excitement, the whole race became processional with Tony Goodwin (Merlyn 6A) finishing second ahead of Steve Hitchens (Lotus 23B) and GT class winner, Tony Thompson (Elan).
The Steinberger Hotels series is very similar to the Atlantic GT series In fact. most of the field was pure Atlantic GT with the addition of three German runners and two cars over five litres, one being the ex-Jackie Stewart 8,100cc Lola 7260. John Foulston was Initially down to drive this beast but he handed the wheel over to John Brindley and came to the line in his McLaren M8D instead Foulston led from Brindley who looked to be catching him halfway through the 15 laps. only to suffer oil on his tyres Richard Eyre brought his Chevron B19 home a distant third ahead of james Wallis’ McLaren M8E, while Chris Aylett (Chevron) won a terrific 2 litre dice involving Colin Pool (Chevron), Chris Beauvoisin (Lola) and Tony Gordon (Chevron).
The Observer Trophy for the FISA GT Cup attracted such a huge entry that one whole class was taken out and run with the last race of the day. which did not please many. For the record, Roger Mac (E Type) won a spirited race narrowly from Andrew Bailly (Elan). with Bobby Bell (E Type) and Francois Berges (Elan) taking the next places. The main interest of the race, however, was watching a high speed parade of delectable cars, many from Italy and of a sort we rarely see in large numbers here Alfa Rorneos in particular were in evidence, one Giulia TZ driven by no less than Gino Munaron who drove a Maserati 250F and a Cooper-Castelotti in minor Ft races in the late Fifties and early Sixties.
Sixth race was the Haldon Investments Trophy for F1. F2 and F5000 cars of any age. James Wallis took his second win of the weekend with his McLaren M19A while John Foulston had his 1975 Ferrari 31211 though apparently lacking the right gear ratios. Wallis won easily from Foulston with John Bryning bringing his BT30 home third with Colin Pool (McLaren M23) fourth after strting from the pit lane It wasn’t much of a race but well prepared Fl cars, even when they’re not close, are never boring.
The Inter-Marque race which ended the meeting didn’t promise much but it turned into a cracking dice between John Greasley’s Porsche 935 63 and the Aston Martin V8 of Dave Ellis. Greasley hounded Ellis from mid-distance and when the Aston Martin went onto four cylinders on the last lap, hared off to win but Ellis had so much in hand on the rest of the field that he still finished second. John Hugenholtz (Lotus Elite) won the separate FISA GT Cup Class G6 race which was attached to the Inter-Marque event. — M.L.