Letter to readers, November 1988

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Indian summer

Dear reader,
When people talk about an “Indian Summer” I am not quite sure what they mean, as I have never been to India and only really know about European summers. They used to happen around June or July, but seem to be getting later and later in the year as the decades go by. I tend to simplify problems which are beyond my control, so summer to me is any day when it is not raining!

For the past eight years one of my “summer days” has always been the first Saturday in October. On that day I take my bucket and spade and go to the seaside for a “summer holiday”. Being a creature of habit (the habit of enjoying life) I always go to Weston-Super-Mare for my holiday by the sea, because the official summer holiday season of that popular town ends on September 30. From October 1 car parking is free through the winter, until the holiday season opens again in the following spring.

More important is the fact that on the first Saturday in October the Burnham-on-Sea Motor Club holds its annual speed-trials on the seafront road . The go-ahead Woodsprings District Council closes the road for the day, allowing competitors to blast up the seafront and return along the pedestrian promenade. The seafront road is a very normal-width, slightly cambered and slightly curving stretch that runs from the Pier to the Hospital, and on this stretch a measured 500 metres (half a kilometre) is laid out, with elapsed-time beams and a terminal-speed beam. As the friendly Burnham Club fits some motorcycle demonstration runs into its full programme, I always take a racing motorcycle as well as my bucket and spade when I go for my summer holiday.

1988 marked the thirtieth consecutive running of the speed-trials by the Burnham-on-Sea Motor Club; before that the event was run by the Bristol Motor Cycle and Light Car Club, and the very first motoring event in Weston-Super-Mare dates back to 1913. To celebrate its thirty years, the Burnham Club arranged for four cars to put on a demonstration to open the meeting.

These four represented a cross-section of the thirty years. First to run was Bruce Spollon with his ERA R8C, the car originally raced by Earl Howe, then DSJ with the first of the works HWM-Jaguar cars (originally HWM 1 but now registered YPG 3), then came Tony Marsh with his four-wheel-drive V8-powered Marsh Special which he built for hill-climbing and sprinting in the 1960s and with which he has rejoined the hill-climb world, and finally the evergreen Roy Lane who borrowed his old Techcraft 4-litre V8 for the occasion.

For all four drivers the “demonstration” runs were serious practice runs for later events, Roy Lane clocking 137 mph through the speed-trap, while yours truly wound the HWM-Jaguar up to 93 mph.

The event proper encompassed everything from Special Saloons to Cosworth DFL-powered Pilbeams, and competition in all the classes was vigorous to say the least. Since this was the final round in the British Sprint Championship, there was a “run-off” at the end of the day for the fastest twelve cars, regardless of class. By this time competitors had got the “feel” of the course, having done two practice runs in the morning and two in the afternoon class categories, so that the two “bonus” runs at the end of the day always witness some heroic times and terminal speeds. We were not disappointed this year.

I always enjoy watching someone do a professional job of work, and some of these “sprint” artists had to be admired as they unleashed virtual Formula One cars up the narrow seafront road.

Paul Edwards claimed the Championship title in his Techcraft-March V8, but Roy Lane in his DFL-powered Pilbeam was the Weston “man of the day”. His six runs up the 500-metre course are a model example of what sprinting is all about: 11.70 sec: first practice run 11.44 sec: second practice run 11.31 sec: first competitive run 11.27 sec: second competitive run & FTD 11.30 sec: first run-off run 11.19 sec: second run-off run on that last run, which was the final run of the day, his speed at the end of the 500 metres standing-start was 165 mph! On the Weston-Super-Mare promenade, not on a motorway.

The following day, Sunday October 2 (there was a Formula One race on the same day on a “mickey-mouse” circuit in the middle of nowhere in southern Spain, I am told), the Vintage Sports Car Club held its own event on the Weston-Super-Mare seafront, by courtesy of the local Council and the Burnham Motor Club. Last year the VSCC held a sprint the day after the main event, and It was so successful that it is now an accepted part of the Weston Speed Weekend.

Restricted to vintage and post-vintage cars (ie, pre-war cars, the youngest of which was 50 years old, and the oldest 85 years old), the performances were naturally down on the Saturday event; but even so there were some stirring runs, with FTD going to the most famous of all ERA cars, R4D, driven by Anthony Mayman with a time of 14.70 seconds and a terminal speed of 122 mph. Not to be left out of the Sunday fun and games, I persuaded my friend Peter Whenman, who fettles-up Lagondas among other VSCC-type cars, to let me share his 41/2-litre Meadows-engined M45R. While we had a private needle-match for the car’s best time and speed, we also got embroiled with David Roscoe in his 4.3-litre Alvis special. All day we had been striving to break the 20-second barrier, and on his last run David clocked 19.98 seconds, to the gloom of the Lagonda faction.

When quizzed about how he had found that little his extra, David said “Oh, I took my jacket off for that run” — it was that sort of happy meeting.

Meanwhile, down in southern Spain I am told that all the Formula One heroes were bitching and binding at each other and indulging in ungentlemanly actions on the track. But then the twisty little track at Jerez is that sort of place.

It is strange how you hear very little whining and whingeing at Spa-Francorchamps, the Osterreichring or Silverstone. On those circuits they have their work cut out, being Grand Prix drivers, whereas at the “mickey-mouse” circuits they are playing at being Formula One drivers. There is a subtle difference, you know. Yours, DSJ

Related articles

Related products