Wheel to wheel -- the month in historic motorsport
2004 Review: Part 3 -- Rallying and VSCC Hillclimb...
Armajaro Historic Rally Championship -- Ford's army can't crack Nutt's 911
This was just about as close as anyone could get to a perfect season. Dessie Nutt/Geraldine McBride romped to the 2004 Armajaro MSA British Historic Rally Championship title with a stunning campaign.
With his faithful 1965 911 completely rebuilt by Francis Tuthill's crew, Nutt had the tool for the job — and duly delivered. McBride was equally faultless on the notes and the overall title was settled with two rounds still to run. Only on the final event of the season did their winning run come to a stop.
Having swapped vehicles with Tuthill for the soaking wet Bulldog Rally, Stuart Rolt took to the older Porsche 911 with aplomb and surprised himself more than anyone else by beating Nutt. However, for the bulk of the campaign it was Tuthill Snr who offered the biggest threat to Nutt and regularly ran the Irishman close.
Convincing class wins in the Historic category went to the Lotus Cortina of Chris and Hilary Green and the Cortina GT of Jonathan and Graham Gale, while Mike Barratt/Michelle Calvert bagged the 1300 division in a Mini Cooper.
Up at the very sharp end of the nine events were the leading Post-historic cars. Competition among the BDA-powered C5-class Escorts was intense, but the amazing speed and consistency of Steven Smith/John Nichols in a Pinto-powered version netted the top slot. Their overall win on the Manx Historic Rally was without doubt the performance of the season.
Ray Bellm blitzed the opening events to take a strong lead in his Mkl Escort-BDA but then a run of mechanical gremlins struck, while David Stokes was blindingly quick in a season interrupted by a very big shunt on the Isle of Man. Instead, Richard Gower swept to class honours among the BDA-powered cars; Dave Dyer's Escort was the top 1600.
In the growing HRCR Classic Stage Rally Challenge for pre-1981 machinery, Ernie Graham/Robin Kellard edged out Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James in yet another frantic battle of the Escorts.
Points Tables -- British Historic Rally Championship
1. Dessie Nutt (Porsche 911) -- 217
2. Steven Smith (Ford Escort) -- 205
3. Chris Green (Lotus-Cortina) -- 189
4. Richard Gower (Ford Escort) -- 178
5. Jonathan Gale (Ford Cortina GT) -- 167
6. Francis Tuthill (Porsche 911) -- 162
1. Geraldine McBride (Porsche 911) -- 217
2. John Nichols (Ford Escort) -- 205
3. Hilary Green (Lotus-Cortina) -- 189
4. Graham Gale (Ford Cortina GT) -- 167
5. Graham Wride (Ford Escort) -- 137
6. Michelle Calvert (Mini Cooper) -- 130
VSCC Hillclimb -- Hulbert's record is summit of season
By all measures the 2004 VSCC hillclimb season was a success. Full fields broke numerous records and delivered fine entertainment for big crowds. As ever, enthusiasts flocked to Shelsley Walsh and Prescott in droves, but events at Wiscombe, Harewood and Loton Park were all successful in their own right.
In the 70th year of both marque and club, ERAs were rightly expected to dominate. However, only Shelsley and Wiscombe fell to ERAs as James Baxter ('Nash) and Charles Dean (Bugatti T51) both claimed coveted FTD awards.
First stop was in Devon for an assault on Wiscombe Park. With some of the big guns missing from a sell-out entry, David Morris was a clear victor in ERA R11B.
Shelsley in early July remains at the pinnacle of this branch of the sport and Mac Hulbert had a clear agenda for ERA R4D. In 2003 he had taken the pre-war record down to 34.05sec and this time he wanted to crack the 34sec barrier. Nudging 90mph through the speed trap, he stopped the clocks at an incredible 33.71sec and received a standing ovation as he coasted back down the famous 1000-yard climb.
Sadly, that was the last time R4D graced a VSCC hillclimb in 2004 as damage sustained at the Goodwood Revival interrupted Hulbert's season. At Shelsley, both Dean and Baxter had driven mightily in pursuit of the ERA and now they stepped forward to take control of the final three events.
Fittingly, Dean triumphed at Prescott, country seat of the Bugatti Owners Club, but it was Baxter on top at Harewood and Loton Park; his 3.5-litre single-seater was a clear victor in Yorkshire, but a big push from Goff Tidball in ERA R14B ran him close in Shropshire.
Among the various classes, several names stood out: David Baker's beautiful Piccard-Pictet was a regular winner among the aero-engined Edwardians, while Dick Smith (Frazer Nash Super Sport) and Will Mahany (HRG Le Mans) were class pace-setters.
Tim Whellock (Hardy Special) and Michael Fitzmaurice (Austin 7) had some great tussles in the 1100cc racing car class and ended the season pretty even, while the extrovert driving styles of Duncan Pittaway (GN Vitesse) and Mark Walker (GN Thunderbug) thrilled the crowds every time.