Wheel to wheel -- the month in historic motorsport

Edited by Paul Lawrence

Clash of ERAs at VSCC opener -- Silverstone April 24

Excellent grids and entertaining racing set up the VSCC season during the 'Spring Start' meeting at Silverstone. A thrilling single-seater race for the combined Lindsay and Rothschild Trophies was the major event, with Anthony Hancock grabbing a narrow victory over Andrew Smith in the battle of the Coopers.

A year earlier, Smith had won the Rothschild Trophy for the post-war cars in his T43, fending off the T45s of Bill Kirkpatrick and Hancock in the process. Back in Neil Twyman's car for only the third time, Hancock set the pole time from Smith while Kirkpatrick languished in eighth and spent the lunch-break installing a spare gearbox.

Hancock opted for a cautious start thanks to spots of rain, and it was Smith who set the early pace. Sawing away at the wheel of the T45, Hancock battled ahead on the third lap, but Smith was not finished yet and responded over the second half of the contest. A close call in traffic at Brooklands pitched Smith onto the grass with a lap to run and his big chance was gone. "I thought I was going to get him back," said Smith after a fine battle.

A first-lap clash of wheels with Mac Hulbert (ERA R4D) almost unseated Mark Gillies (R3A), but he recovered to romp to the Patrick Lindsay Trophy and humble many post-war cars along the way.

Overcoming a catalogue of dramas, Julian Bronson battled against fading fuel pressure and the Lister 'Knobbly' of Tony Wood to hold onto 1950s Sports Cars victory.

Then, starting from the back of the grid after losing a blower pipe in qualifying, he drove his Riley Blue Streak to victory in the Fox and Nicholl Trophy for the ninth time.

Julian Majzub completed a hat-trick of Itala Trophy wins in the Bentley Pacey-Hassan, keeping the Bentley Jackson Special of former double winner Michael Rudnig at bay. Rudnig was later able to score an emphatic victory in a pre-war scratch race, while at the start of the day Paul Mullins guided ERA R7B to a commanding pre-war win.


Dodd to the fore in tin-top tussle  -- HSCC: Silverstone May 8

An epic Historic Racing Saloons victory for Graeme Dodd delivered the closest of finishes on a day when four races were decided by less than a second. None were more dramatic than when Dodd's Jaguar beat Les Ely's BMW to the line by five-hundredths of a second.

That was a blinding race." said Ely after hunting the Jaguar down over the latter half. It all came to the final charge out of Luffield: Ely hauled the BMW up alongside, but Dodd kept his foot buried and, hanging on to a lurid drift, took the verdict by a tiny margin.

John Monson had to push hard in his Elva Mk7S to fend off the ever-present Brabham BT8 of Brendan Roberts in the Classic Sports encounter. In his first race in the Climax-powered BT8, Roberts gained confidence by the lap in what was a shakedown race ahead of a trip to Pau.

Steven Worrad claimed Classic Racing Car spoils in his Brabham BT30, but only after tigering up the order and getting ahead of Matthew Watts as they worked their way through traffic. Steve Maxted (Classic F3) and Nelson Rowe (Historic FF16001 both had comfortable victories, but life for Barry Westmoreland was anything but easy in Formula Junior as Steve Smith (Cooper T59) and James Claridge (Lola Mk5A ) harried the Lotus 22 to the flag.


Watts links it all together in Wales -- BHRC: Epynt April 30/May 1

The demands of two days and 120 miles on the Epynt ranges in mid-Wales delivered a considerable challenge for round three of the Armajaro MSA British Historic Rally Championship, but David Stokes and Patrick Watts proved equal to the task as they took victories in their respective categories.

Stokes and Ian Oakey won the post-historic class for the second time in three events in their Mkl Escort BDA, although concerns about bellhousing bolts forced them to cruise the final few stages with everything crossed. But with Mark Solloway /leuan Thomas out on the first day after the engine in their Ray Bellm-owned Escort failed, Stokes and Oakey had time in hand.

Steve Loveridge and Mark Sattin produced arguably the drive of the rally until they pitched their Mini off the road on Sunday and out of second place, leaving that position to Jeremy Easson and Den Golding on the driver's first taste of the asphalt twists and brows.

Watts and Elgan Davies were unstoppable in the historic category in their Sunbeam Tiger and were able to nurse their brakes well enough to score a fine victory. "It seems to have got narrower since last year.joked the former BTCC racer of his second visit to the military ranges.

The concurrent Classic category fell in style to the Triumph TR7 V8 of Steve Hall/Aggie Foster, although their task was eased when the Escort Mk2 of Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James lunched its engine on the opening stage.


Mustang savvy in Top Hat stunners -- Top Hat Classic: Donington May 1/2

John Young and Richard Styles took victory in the Top Hat Pre-66 Historic Touring Car race at the Donington Classic meeting. Their Ford Mustang triumphed after a tremendous battle with the Ford Falcon Sprint of Castle Combe winners Andy Bacon and Leo Voyazides. Ultimately the Falcon retired with a clutch problem, but not before Voyazides had made the car even wider to keep Young at bay.

Styles spun down the order early on but put in a great recovery drive, while Young was mighty in the car, reeling in the leader relentlessly. David Clark/Richard Oldworth came second in another Falcon, while Robert Hartley/Rupert Clevely took third in their Lotus Cortina. Voyazides later made amends by winning the Groovy Baby '70s Saloons race in his Mustang.

Clark and Oldworth blitzed the opposition in the Cloth Cap sportscar race in their Elva, while Adam Crowton's Lotus Elite won the Oldies but Goldies race.

A broken engine mounting and a spin cost Sandy Watson/Martin O'Connell (Chevron B16) a win in the Sebring Salute race, allowing Irvine Laidlaw's similar car to claim honours. Laidlaw also won the HGPCA drum-braked sportscar race in his Maserati 250S, while veteran GT40 star Willie Green and Oliver and Grahame Bryant (AC Cobra) scored Gentleman Drivers' wins.

Local ace Denis Welch was dominant in the Lurani Trophy, winning the Formula Junior two-part race on aggregate, and another double win went to Roger Saul and hard-charging Calum Lockie in the former's Alfa Romeo P3 in the Pre-War Sports Car races. It was former British GT Champion Lockie's first race in the car and his debut in historic motor racing.


Christian soldiers on to TGP glory -- Jim Clark Memorial: Hockenheim April 22/24

Christian Gläsel proved unstoppable as the Thoroughbred Grand Prix season opened at Hockenheim. In a race meeting named in honour of Jim Clark, Gläsel's Brabham BT49 blitzed the field, though his winning margin of 24sec was amplified by early retirements for both Duncan Dayton (Williams FW07) and Hubertus Bahlsen (Arrows A4).

Dayton, having qualified second to Gläsel, was out almost immediately when a bracket on the accelerator pedal broke. Then Bahlsen had his engine fail comprehensively on the third tour, and his trail of oil on the racing line forced a red flag. From the re-start Gläsel was untroubled, with only Richard Eyre (Williams FW08) and Steve Hartley (Arrows A6) staying within half a minute of the Parmalat-liveried Brabham. Close behind the Ensign N180 of David Abbott came the star of the race, Janine Payne, who made a fine TGP debut in her Arrows A4.

A 29-strong field gathered for the opening races in the Orwell Supersports Cup, including half a dozen Can-Am cars. Honours were shared in the brace of 30-minute races by the McLaren M8Fs of Peter Hoffmann and Richard Piper, with Silvio Kalb's March 76S topping the 2-litre cars.

Christian Fischer (March 772) took a Euro F2 double, while Bruno Schaffner (Lotus 22) took the Lurani Trophy, and the Ford Falcon of Andy Bacon won in FTA tin-tops.


Stokes strokes to Astra victory -- BHRC: Astra Stages April 9

David Stokes was in no mood to finish second in round two of the Armajaro MSA British Historic Rally Championship. Partnered by Ian Oakey in his Mkl Ford Escort. Stokes stamped his authority on the North Wales event on the opening stage and then concentrated on holding a gap to the similar car of Jeremy Easson/Den Golding in the post-historic category.

Steven Smith and John Nichols claimed the historic category victory in the XS Racing Porsche 911, despite a day-long challenge from the similar car of Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride.

The concurrent HRCR Classic Challenge fell to Andrew Haddon/Daniel Mclachlan in their ex-works Escort Mk2. They were not registered for the championship, so maximum points went to Stuart Clarke/Peter Thomas after a good run in their Mk2. A puncture in Penllyn cost Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James any chance of victory, but third place kept them at the top of the early title battle.


Rowe in class of his own in FF epic -- HSCC: Snetterton April 17

Nelson Rowe marked himself as favourite for the HSCC's Historic FF1600 title with an emphatic victory in the second race of the season at Snetterton. With Neil Fowler and Jason Minshaw both foregoing a full title assault, Rowe dominated by the exceptional margin of 13sec in his Crosslé 20F. Nigel Bancroft, in another 20F, led the fevered pursuit of the racing vet.

James Dodd was the star of the Historic Racing Saloons, getting the better of his father Graeme and the rest of the pack with a gritty performance in his Alfa Romeo Giulia. Dodd senior gave his offspring no easy ride, but was forced back to third when brake dramas hit the Jaguar Mk2. Les Ely split the Dodds in his BMW, while Donington victor Dan Cox was left back in fourth, lacking the right diff for straight-line speed in his Anglia.

Steve Maxted claimed Classic F3 spoils in his Argo JM6 as Alex Ames retired his Chevron B38 with wheel-bearing failure. Other single-seater victories fell to old hand Matthew Watts (Brabham BT16), Frank Lyons (Hesketh 308E) and Mike Hibberd (Lotus 27).


GN Cognac the toast of hillclimb -- VSCC: Wiscombe Park May 8

Trevor John charged his AC-GN Cognac Special to FTD at the VSCC hillclimb at Wiscombe Park in Devon. With a climb in 48.56sec on his first run, John provided more drama on his second attempt as he pushed to improve his time.

Pulling around 90mph at Bunny's Leap, he simply arrived too quickly at the next corner and slithered off.

Fortunately, damage to the car was limited to a mangled timing strut and his first-run time remained unbeaten.

With a best climb of 49.21sec, Stewart Becker claimed second FTD in his GN Salome, while Michael Windsor-Price took ERA R1A to a second place in class on the car's first UK appearance for a couple of seasons.


Business as usual for Ol' Fearless --  Classic Endurance Racing: Spa-Francorchamps April 15/16

Frank Sytner's ex-Sid Taylor Racing Lola T70 Mk3B took victory in the opening Classic Endurance race of the season at a foggy Spa-Francorchamps in April.

With pole-sitter Christian Gläsel electing not to risk his Ferrari 312PB in the tricky conditions Sytner had an easier time than he may have expected, but was pushed hard early on by Kevin McGarrity in the Lola T212 that he shared with Lola boss Martin Birrane.

With the first 20 minutes of the hour-long race run behind a safety car due to the fog, the battle was a short one. McGarrity shone in the Lola, although the car later slipped back to fifth after Birrane took over.

Stephano Rosina (Lola T70) moved up to take second place ahead of the magnificent JW Gulf Porsche 917 of Jean-Marc Luco.


Lotus blossoms in sportscar clash -- BRDC Historic Sports: Silverstone April 24

The BRDC Historic Sportscar Championship delivered the goods once more, with the maiden running of the BRDC RAF Silverstone Trophy on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit.

Philip Walker (Lotus 15) claimed victory, but only after a fierce fight with Graeme Dodd's Cooper Monaco, which had led in the early stages. The two were nose-to-tail race long, but Dodd was never able to get back ahead. Peter Hardman (Ferrari 246S Dino) took third after a poor start from pole, while John Harper was fourth in his Cooper Monaco.

John Clark (Lola Mk1) and Jamie McIntyre (Rejo) claimed class spoils, as did Ben Eastick's Jaguar D-type.


Triumphs make hay while Jaguars flail -- Swinging '60s: Snetterton April 24

A capacity field got the Swinging '60s race series off to an excellent start at Snetterton as Triumph TRs dominated the action in the Classic Sports Car Club series race. Thornton Mustard's pole position counted for nothing when his Jaguar E-type lunched its gearbox on the start line and Chris Petch went out on the first lap with his TR5 spinning at Riches.

Instead, Joe Henderson and his TR6 took the win, 10sec up on Richard Bull/Joe Ward's TR5 at the flag.