50 years of Mallory Park

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It may no longer play host to the top international and British stars, but Mallory Park is still going strong. Marcus Simmons pays his respects

Mallory Park — the only British racing circuit with a layout that has been completely unchanged in the past half a century. The 1.35-mile venue, in the middle of Leicestershire, opened for car racing on May 21 1956: the first race was won by D Rees’s Austin sportscar, the most critical remark in the press being that “the hairpin rather penalises any car which has not too generous a lock”! Mallory, recently known as ‘The Friendly Circuit’, celebrates its golden jubilee with a meeting on, appropriately enough, May 2. We look back at the great moments, from F1 in 1962 to mad saloon battles.

War breaks out among small Saloons

While Capris battled Rovers in the top class, some of the hottest RAC British Saloon Car Championship action of the 1980 season came in the 1600cc division — none more so than when the series visited Mallory in August.

The fight was between Toyota (represented by the Celica of Chris Hodgetts) and Audi — team chief Richard Lloyd was fielding a brace of 80s for himself and Stirling Moss, and had recently drafted in Tony Lanfranchi to drive a third car. With an oversubscribed entry, the two small classes had a race to themselves, meaning that the 1600cc brigade would be fighting for overall honours.

It soon turned nasty, when Hodgetts hit Lloyd as they entered Gerards at the start of lap two. Lloyd had just set his car up for the corner, and the loaded-up Audi veered out of control before flattening the inside barrier and ending up on the infield. Hodgetts would be given a one-month ban for the move.

Moss, who had been having a bad ‘comeback’ season in modern racing, moved into the lead, but he soon lost out to the recovering Hodgetts. Lanfranchi then loomed into contention, passing Moss and setting off after Hodgetts. With six laps left, Hodgetts braked impossibly late into the Esses in a bid to hold off the Audi, and the Toyota spun into the barriers.

So Lanfranchi went on to win from Moss, with David Morgan keeping up his incredible Mallory form (a race winner at the circuit in F2, FAtlantic and a Mini) to take third in his Colt Lancer. And the new class lap record? It became the property of the 50-year-old Moss.

Mallort’s Touring Car Stars
Björn Rothstein: won 1963 European Touring Car round in a Saab 96!

Frank Gardner: success in Ford Falcon and Chevy Camaro.

Andy Rouse: three overall wins in Triumph Dolomite Sprints, and another pair in Ford Capris.

Cohn Vandervell: a 1979 win in a Capri – he also won at Mallory in F3 and FAtlantic.

Win Percy: the man to beat in small classes in a Toyota Celica.