Wheel to wheel -- the month in historic motorsport

Bellm’s GT40 on top in first Tour — Tour Britannia, September 5-8

Ray Bellm added victory in the inaugural Tour Britannia to his impressive record as a small but select field of cars contested the four-day event. Bellm’s Ford GT40 ended the tour with a half-minute margin over the Lotus 30 of the intrepid Howard Redhouse, while Adrian Newey took his GT40 into third.

Received with the unanimous acclaim of the competitors, the Tour took in four days of English countryside, with races at Cadwell Park, Rockingham and Silverstone. Speed tests took place at venues such as Shelsley Walsh and Loton Park.

Bellm’s attacking style paid dividends from the start, although Redhouse scored a famous win over the GT4Os in a tremendous race at Cadwell Park. “That was a good craic,” beamed Redhouse, while Bellm took second after fending off a determined challenge from Simon Hadfield at the wheel of Michael Schryver’s Chevron B6.

A series of short special stages throughout the rest of Monday allowed Bellm to take the overall lead and that was where he stayed, boosted by a commanding victory the following day at Rockingham.

A rear-hub drama cost the Chevron a lot of time, but it was fixed for Wednesday’s loop, which took in Shelsley, Loton and Curborough.

Despite having never seen Shelsley before, Redhouse attacked bravely and pulled back some of Bellm’s lead. But the time clawed back on the short stages was never going to counter the final day’s pair of races on the Silverstone GP circuit, where the GT40 was in its element. Sure enough Bellm won twice to cement his event win, ably partnered by Paul Lanzante.

“I think they’ve done a fantastic job with the first Tour Britannia,” said Bellm at the finish. Redhouse, co-driven by classic BMW racer Richard Shaw, had thrilled the fans with the mighty Lotus on his way to second overall, while Newey and Dean Lanzante took third, despite Newey’s trip through the gravel trap at Priory during the final Silverstone race.

Schryver/Hadfield were able to salvage fourth from Nick Whale/Sally Wood (Porsche 911), while the Lotus Elan of John Sheldon/Lesley Stevens completed the top six. Victory in the Index of Performance went to the Alvis Speed 20 of Rüdiger Friedrichs/Wolfgang Kalf.


Doctor prescribes French remedy — Angoulême: Circuit des Remparts September 17/18 

British drivers dominated the annual street race meeting at Angoulême to claim victory in five of the eight races.

Notable among the winners was Dr Tony Goodwin, who took the front-engined Formula Junior race in his Gemini Mk2 as the category tackled the tricky 0.8-mile circuit for the first time.

As ever the Frazer Nash race was a highlight, with victory going to the Supersports of Geoff Smith after poleman Peter Roberts spun on oil and ended his race against a kerb.

Rob Cobden (Riley Falcon Special) and Bob Allen (MGTC) both kept away from the kerbs and walls to win races, while the early-60s Lotus 7s of Jérôme Servies and Jacques Chartier topped the GT thrash.

Sadly, political machinations continue to put the future of this event under question, but efforts are being made to preserve a very special race meeting.


Armer pierced by Westmoreland — Croft, Formula Junior, September 10-11

A double-header for the AMOC Miller Oils Historic Formula Junior Championship provided a win apiece for Simon Armer (Cooper T59) and Barry Westmoreland (Lotus 22).

In Saturday’s race Armer fended off a challenge from Westmoreland to win by only half a second. Third, and best of the front-engined cars, was the Terrier of Derek Walker.

In the second race Westmoreland managed to get ahead and pulled clear of his rival for a commanding win. Having finished second to Walker the day before, Stuart Roach topped the front-engined cars in third place with another excellent performance in his Alexis Mk2. Fourth on Sunday went to American Ned Spieker (Brabham BT6) as he continued his annual summer foray to Europe.


Rally man takes to grass but wins — Thruxton, HSCC, September 10

Even though he had not seen the circuit before the start of qualifying, Irish newcomer James O’Mahony clinched a memorable Historic Road Sports victory in his Chevrolet Camaro during the HSCC’s first race meeting at Thruxton.

The former rally driver tamed the Camaro around the high-speed sweeps of the Hampshire track and recovered from a scary trip onto the grass at Church en route to victory. But his win was only confirmed when the engine of race leader Laurence Bailey’s TVR Griffith rattled ominously on the final lap.

Dan Cox was another Thruxton debutant to win, scooping Historic Racing Saloon success in his Ford Anglia as Nigel Vaulkhard closed in fast over the final laps in his Ford Mustang.

Matthew Watts (Brabham BT16) and Ian Jacobs (March 742) took commanding wins in the Classic Racing Cars and the Derek Bell Trophy respectively, while Steve Maxted’s Argo JM6 overcame the March 793 of lain Rowley on its way to another Classic F3 success.

Neil Fowler (Merlyn Mk20), also racing at Thruxton for the first time, won a fine Historic Formula Ford 1600 race as Jamun T2-mounted David Gathercole and Nigel Bancroft in his Crosslé 20F put up a strong challenge. Final winners were Charles Barter (Datsun 240Z) and Charles Allison (Marcos GT).


Easson rifles in Flanders battle — Tour of Flanders: British Historic Rally Championship, September 17/18 

Jeremy Easson and Den Golding strengthened their title bid with victory on round seven of the Armajaro MSA British Historic Rally Championship, the Tour of Flanders in Belgium.

In the historic category Dessie Nutt and Geraldine McBride took their Porsche 911 to victory after pacesetters Steven Smith/Howard Pridmore went out early with gearbox failure on their 911. While Patrick Watts slid his Sunbeam Tiger into one of many ditches, Nutt and McBride emerged as commanding winners among the pre-66 cars.

Easson/Golding were challenged by the similar Mk1 Escort of David Stokes/Ian Oakey before the latter pair hit mechanical dramas on the final stage.

Instead it was Porsche crew Peter Lythell/Gill Cotton who moved up to second in the post-historics to score their best ever result.

Among the HRCR Classic category, Gareth Lloyd/Ryland James were commanding winners in their Mk2 Escort to tighten their grip on the championship.


Hadfield sweeps to trio of wins — Spa-Francorchamps: Classic Six Hours,  September 23-25

The Aston Martin Project 212 of David Clark, Wolfgang Friedrichs and Simon Hadfield finished just 19sec clear of the Marc Devis/Carlos Barbot AC Cobra at the end of a 92-car event interrupted for over an hour mid-race while an accident was dealt with.

For Clark and Hadfield it was the culmination of a successful weekend, for they also shared the winning Elva Mk8 in the Gentleman Drivers’ Sports Racing Challenge, while Hadfield partnered John Clark to win the World Sportscar Masters race in a Lola T70 after overcoming a drive-through penalty.

Father and son Grahame and Oliver Bryant also had a successful weekend, winning the Top Hat Enduro in their Morgan Plus 8 before going on to take the two-hour Gentleman Drivers’ GT & Sports Endurance race in their AC Cobra. In the Top Hat race they narrowly beat the Sunbeam Tiger of Chris Beighton/Jon Finnemore, which went on to win the British Sports and Saloon Car Challenge.

James Hanson took a pair of Grand Prix Masters wins with his Surtees TS9 and Leo Voyazides (Ford GT40) won both FIA Pre-65 GTC races. The FIA Pre-65 Touring Cars was dominated by the Alfa Romeo GTA of Dieter Anton, Gareth Burnett scored in the Motor Racing Legends Pre-War Sports race in his ex-factory Talbot 105, and Philip Walker’s Lotus 15 took the BRDC Historic Sports victory.


Bright Gray wins laurels in Hardy — Loton Park: VSCC September 25

Carl Gray scored a famous FTD in his diminutive Hardy Special as the VSCC’s hillclimb season wrapped up at Loton Park. In the absence of some of the big guns of VSCC hilIclimbing, Gray threw the 1-litre supercharged racer up the Shropshire hill to go more than two seconds clear.

Gray dominated both runs. A first-run time of 63.61sec was good enough for FTC,  but Gray dug even deeper on his second run and screamed to the top in 63.33sec to complete a perfect day.

A gaggle of cars battled for second FTD and, with a best of 66.01sec. it was Tom Walker who led the chase of Gray in his GN Special. That also counted as the best time by a vintage car. Just behind Walker’s time was Martin Spencer, who topped the pre-war class in the ex-Basil Davenport GN Spider II.


Cortina ahead in Slovenian finish — Classic Marathon, September 11-16

For the first time in its 17-year history the Classic Marathon headed into Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia for a week of competition on challenging roads and through spectacular scenery. After six full days of regularity sections and special tests, the Lotus-Cortina of Andrew Newman and Mike Hope took a narrow win over the Sunbeam Alpine of Malcolm Pickering and Simon Nagle.

Having been in the leading pack from the off, Newman/Hope moved into a 17sec lead on the penultimate day as the rally headed into Ljubljana for the final night halt. Having led the Winter Challenge earlier in the year before sliding off the road, Newman had to keep his focus through the final day in Slovenia.

On an event when less than four minutes of penalties covered the top 10 finishers, the final podium place went to the Reliant Scimitar of Richard Prosser/Andy Gibson. Early leaders Marc Tipping/Tony Jolly were fourth in their MGB GT.


Welsh Cobb trots home to easy win — Anglesey, Classic Weekend,  September 24-25

The inaugural classic race meeting at the Anglesey circuit was all about the Frazer Nash marque. From the modest field, Jonathan Cobb was easily the victor in his Supersport as the FN Gough of Geraint Lewis worked through to second.

With Cobb departed for the clashing VSCC hillclimb at Loton Park, the way was open for Lewis to win on Sunday from the BHD Special of James Parker.

Dean Butler’s growing fleet of ex-IROC Chevrolet Camaros played a big part in the weekend, with team engineer Mikey Windsor-Price winning three times in all.


Brabham beats Arrows — Brands Hatch: Thoroughbred Grand Prix, September 24/25

Supporting the A1GP event at Brands Hatch, the penultimate round of the FIA Thoroughbred Grand Prix season put classic F1 machinery into action in front of a 50,000 crowd. A brace of wins for Christian Gläsel’s Brabham BT49D tightened his grip on the title going into the final round at Estoril.

Richard Eyre (Williams FW08) briefly headed Saturday’s sprint race before Gläsel moved ahead, while Hubertus Bahlsen put his Arrows A4 off the road.

With the Arrows refettled for Sunday’s feature race, Bahlsen chased Gläsel in the early laps. But as Gläsel went clear by over 16sec, Bahlsen was beaten to second by John Wilson (Tyrrell 011).


Hammond in key to score in Camaro — Mallory Park, Top Hat, October 2

The closest contest in the annual Top Hat Raceday came at the very end of the day. Nearly half of the Sebring Salute grid was absent following previous skirmishes, but the two-car lead fight compensated as Alec Hammond’s Camaro was chased by the raucous Taydec Mk3 of Rod Smith. Only at the end of the penultimate lap did Smith summon up the courage to make a passing move.

Richard Butterfield’s Mkl Jaguar lapped the Oldies but Goldies field, but Andy Bacon was wonderfully consistent to take second in his A35. Chris Sharp benefited from a safety-car period that effectively put his rivals a lap down as the Elva Mk7 sped to a Cloth Cap win, while Mark Wright’s new Escort Mk1 looked fantastic as it won in Groovy Baby!

Pit stops disrupted a great three-car Top Hat fight for glory that was eventually won by Robert Hartley’s Lotus-Cortina, while the Elan of Stephen Doyle triumphed in a disappointing Best of British encounter.


Island hoppers in Centenary bash — TT Celebration, Isle of Man, September 7 – 11

Around 100 cars took part in the recreation of the inaugural Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race in September. The event celebrated the centenary of the 1905 race. The oldest car was a 1903 Darracq, while the first car to return to the finish was Neil Corner’s Sunbeam in the hands of Richard Fox.

Guests for the event included car and ‘bike TT winner Stuart Graham.