Historic racing news

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An inspector calls

Like naughty schoolboys scrambling to take advantage of a no-questions-asked amnesty on the return of contraband, historic racers have quietly been un-modifying their cars for the 2017 season. 

The rush comes after one of the most influential historic racing promoters announced plans to inspect engines to ensure no competitors had gained an unfair advantage. 

Duncan Wiltshire, who runs four historic race series under his Motor Racing Legends brand – the Historic Touring Car Challenge (above), the Woodcote Trophy for pre ’56 sports cars, the Stirling Moss Trophy for pre ’61 sports-racing cars and the Pre-War Sports Car Series – announced in January that cars would go through a test process prior to racing. Before they gain approval, MSA scrutineers remove the cylinder head, measure bore and stroke and then seal the bottom end of the engine. 

Since the announcement it has emerged that there has been a spike in demand for new crankshafts for one particular model of period touring car. Running illegal crankshafts is a way of increasing the capacity of an engine by up to around 10 per cent within the original engine cylinders and block.

Oversized engines in historic racing is a problem that has rumbled on for some time and it was a subject that troubled Wiltshire. “I thought long and hard before going ahead with this, as it was quite a dramatic action,” admits Wiltshire, who announced the initiative at the Legends awards dinner in mid-January. “I got a big cheer from the room and that was a massive relief.”

Notice was clearly taken of the new initiative. “This year is completely voluntary and it will be mandatory from next year. I don’t believe we’ve lost any competitors because of this process.”

Four months into the engine certification process, Wiltshire is very pleased with progress. “In a year or two it will become a natural process and I think it is inevitable that other organisers will follow. No one has said we shouldn’t be doing it.”

Blast from the past 

Six decades since its last race, a unique Turner Formula 2 car from 1952 is back in action this season.

Jack Turner was best known for building small sports cars and up to 700 were built through until 1965, when ill-health brought production to an end. In the early 1950s he also built some racing cars and financial backer John Webb commissioned a 1500cc F2 car for the 1952 season.

It was raced, albeit without much success, by Webb and Jack Fairman in 1953 and Ron Flockhart in 1954, but its last race appears to have been in August ’54. It was later bought by Jack Perkins and probably used in speed events before being laid up for many years. More recently, Adrian Field-Lucas inherited the car from Perkins’ widow and resolved to get it back on track.

The car (below) has been restored to race-ready trim by Ian Nuthall’s IN Racing team. “The engine is based on the Lea Francis 1500 and Turner himself cast the head in aluminium with twin plug ignition,” says Nuthall. “It’s like an A-Type Connaught engine.

“The whole car is a nice, basic design. Turner was very friendly with John Tojeiro and they did some things together. So the chassis is a bit like an AC and a Tojeiro and I think it was probably Tojeiro’s design. Most of it is fairly basic, as all cars were at the time.

“It still has the original engine. We’ve just gone through the car to make it work from a racing point of view. It needed quite a few bits and bobs that had corroded. It’s a beautiful little car.”

Thrill of the chase 

MORE THAN 50 Touring Cars from 30 years of the BTCC will form a showpiece double-header at this July’s Silverstone Classic. In a new twist, the pair of races will feature split grids. 

First away will be about 25 Super Touring cars of the 1990s and, half a minute later, a similar number of Group 1 and Gp A cars will be released. Gianfranco Brancatelli will be on the grid in the Eggenberger RS500 he took to victory in the 1989 Spa 24 Hours.

BRDC Rising Star Chris Middlehurst, 22, raced a 57-year-old Lotus 18 Grand Prix car to victory at the VSCC Silverstone meeting. The former McLaren/Autosport Young Driver finalist and Formula Renault champion raced the ex-Jim Hall car of Charles McCabe in the pair of HGPCA races and won the first before gearbox problems later struck.

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