Event of the month -- Donington Park HSCC

David Clark gave his ex-Chris Amon Elva victory in its first race for 38 years, while Neil Fowler and Steve Maxted took thrillers — Report by Paul Lawrence, photography by Charlie Wooding

In the car’s first race since 1967, an elated David Clark guided the ex-Chris Amon Elva Mk8 to victory in the Classic Sports Car race as the HSCC season opened at Donington.

Thrilling wins for Neil Fowler in Historic FF1600 and Steve Maxted in Classic Formula Three topped the race action as the first battle lines were drawn in the club’s diverse range of championships.

After nearly four decades being used for hillclimbs in the Canary Islands (!), Clark’s BMW-powered Elva has been returned to 1965 specification by Simon Hadfield’s crew and ran perfectly.

In truth the Elva was always going to be the class of the field, but Jamie Boot gave spirited chase in his TVR Griffith as he limbered up for an FIA Historic GT campaign. Then the dry line that steadily developed through the afternoon played into Clark’s hands.

Quadruple champion Fowler dipped back into Historic FF1600 for a one-off appearance and was rewarded with victory in his Lola T200. This was a typically hectic affair as a gaggle of challengers snapped at Fowler’s gearbox.

Eventually only Nelson Rowe (Crosslé 20F) could live with the Lola and it took the bravest of moves from Fowler to settle victory on the final lunge into the chicane with a momentary — and inadvertent — brush of wheels under braking.

Classic F3 pacesetter Maxted (Argo JM6) faced a new challenge in the form of young Alex Ames, making his F3 debut in an ex-works Chevron B38 which the family team had bought in Germany only a week earlier. Initially Richard Trott (Ralt RT1) headed the pack, but first Maxted and then Ames edged the 1980s F3 ace back to third. Gaining confidence with every lap, Ames hunted down Maxted as the leader was dealt a poor hand with backmarkers. Erring on the side of good sense, Ames resisted a desperate last-corner lunge and Maxted won by a third of a second.

The Derek Bell Trophy field was thinned by a multi-car accident when Tim Barry spun his March 76A on the exit of Redgate and collected Chris Ball (Brabham BT29) and Peter Richards (Delta T79). From the re-start, the Formula 5000s of Simon Hadfield (Chevron B37) and Ian Giles (Eagle FA74) stormed away in close company.

Giles fell foul of the combination of a damp patch of track and misting glasses, spinning as he put the power down out of Redgate for the second time. Hadfield now had an easy time, with Stuart Tilley finishing 23sec adrift in his Modus M1. Giles recovered to third.

“I thought I was going to have to settle for fifth,” admitted Dan Cox after winning the opening Historic Racing Saloon counter in his Ford Anglia. Simon Garrad’s Alfa Romeo GTA was soon gone with a suspected bearing problem and Roger Cope spun his Jaguar S-type down the order as oil was liberally spread through the Craner Curves. Cox was into his stride after running fifth early on: he moved ahead of James Dodd (Alfa Romeo GTA) and set about Dodd Snr, Graeme, in his Jaguar Mk2. With Cox climbing all over his boot lid, Dodd spun on the exit of Redgate and Cox was away and gone. Dodd recovered in time to keep his son at bay for second place.

Earlier, Dodd Snr had trounced the Jaguar XK pack, while Charles Barter had an unusually easy time in winning the ’70s Road Sports in his Datsun 240Z after Matthew Bannister spun his 240Z down the order. A dominant victory also went to Laurence Bailey (TVR Griffith) in Historic Road Sports, while Matthew Watts (Brabham BT16) took the Classic Racing Cars after Steven Worrad’s BT30 speared off at high speed on the opening lap.