The paddock looked rammed, even if some of the grid sizes didn’t reflect as much, the mood was mostly convivial and any event at Thruxton is nowadays cause for celebration. The flowing Hampshire circuit is limited to just 12 competitive days per annum – six racing weekends, as its calendar is currently structured – and the Easter Revival set the ball rolling on April 4/5.
Introduced to great acclaim in 2013, the Historic Sports Car Club-run event has since been stripped of two halo events. The Martini Trophy fell from the roster last season and the Super Touring Car Trophy was absent this time around, so the meeting felt more like a standard HSCC clubbie (although there’s nothing wrong with that, for it’s a fine species). One or two entries were sparse, but some of the racing was customarily exquisite.
Ben Mitchell (Merlyn Mk20) won both Historic FF1600 races comfortably enough, thus denying himself an opportunity to keep an eye on the ferocious warfare beyond his slipstream. Max Bartell got the better of Tiff Needell in race one, during which neophyte Richard Mitchell (no relation to the winner) recovered from a spin to take fifth. Next time out, Mitchell R belied his inexperience to finish ahead of Bartell, Needell and Simon Toyne after a splendid battle. If ever you wanted to distil motor racing’s true essence, this was it.
Things commenced with similar vigour in the opening FF2000 race, although Tom Smith (Royale RP27) won after Callum Grant and Andrew Park lost time with spins (Grant later parting company with his rear wing, although he still finished fourth). Race two was more straightforward, with Grant winning from Smith.
Tim Davies (Lotus Cortina) dominated both Historic Touring Car Championship races, from Peter Halford (Mustang) and David Tomlin (Cortina). Jonathan Lewis took fourth in the opener at the wheel of a newly built Mini Cooper (which used to be a midwife’s road car), but lost third in race two when its rotor arm snapped. Dan Wray and Nigel Cox escaped without serious injury after inverting their Cortinas in practice and race one respectively: sadly, the same could not be said of their cars.
The first of two 40-minute Guards Trophy races (for GTs) produced one of the weekend’s tightest finishes. Dan Cox (TVR Griffith) established an early lead, but Robert Bremner (AC Cobra) closed in during the race’s final phase – after Mike Gardiner replaced Cox at the helm – and was less than half a second adrift at the flag.
Circuit manager Bill Coombs received a last-minute call-up to share Chris Drake’s McLaren M1B, which he’d never previously driven, in the Guards Trophy for sports-racing cars. The pair waltzed to victory, but theirs was an invitational entry and Stuart/George Tizzard (Lenham Spider) were best of the Guards-eligible crews, from a phalanx of Chevron B8s headed by James Schryver.
Michael Lyons (Hesketh 308) won the notionally headline Derek Bell Trophy races, although Richard Evans (March 79B) and Mark Charteris (Mallock U2 Mk20/21) – second and third in both, ahead of much more powerful machinery – were the stars. On Saturday Charteris lost third gear and significant momentum, but not his position. He also won the Classic Clubmans race by about a fortnight, closest rival Michael Mallock spinning back to an eventual second after the pair touched early on. The race was curtailed prematurely after third-placed Mike Lane crashed his Mallock Mk20B heavily at Church: Lane was detained overnight in hospital, but released the following morning. The essential delicacy of the rescue operation left insufficient time to permit running of the last scheduled race, for Historic Road Sports. Simon Arron