2014 Oulton Park Gold Cup

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The name resonates still, but there were mumblings about the content – both within the press room and from the spectator banks. When the Gold Cup was conceived, 60 years ago, it was a non-championship Formula 1 race with a trophy that reflected the event’s title. On August 6, 1954, Stirling Moss became the first recipient after taking his Maserati 250F to a comfortable victory over Reg Parnell’s Ferrari 625.

Contemporary F1 cars haven’t featured since 1972, when Denny Hulme (McLaren M19A) defeated a field bolstered by F5000 machinery, and since then the Gold Cup has been presented for all sorts of things, including GT, F3 and Thundersports victories. Nowadays it has become a race meeting title, but the time is perhaps ripe to revive Gold Cup tradition by creating something that gives this Oulton meeting a little extra zest.

Given the concept’s roots, a non-championship race for cars from the FIA Masters Historic F1 series might be apposite (although they tend to be otherwise engaged at Zandvoort late in August). Or perhaps a round of the HSCC’s own Historic F2 Championship, given that the Gold Cup was occasionally staged for F2 cars in the 1950s and 1960s. Food for thought, either way.

Even without a nominated headline, though, there wasn’t much wrong with the racing on a typically well supported HSCC bill (FISCAR and Martini Trophy apart – 2-litre sports cars seem allergic to anything north of approximately Milton Keynes). Highlights of a sunny opening day (which I missed, due to being otherwise engaged at Spa) included a gripping four-way Historic F3 battle in which Ian Bankhurst (Alexis) got the better of François Derossi (Chevron), Simon Armor (March) and Keith Messer (Vesey). Colleagues reported that it was redolent of an old-time slipstreamer, although it was also for second place, behind the distant Benn Simms (Elfin).

Monday’s conditions varied between moist and monsoon, during which Tim Davies (Lotus Cortina) pulled off a bit of giant-killing in reverse, beating Pete Morgan’s persistent and potentially quicker Mini. Morgan won the significantly soggier second encounter, with Tim Harber completing a Mini one-two.

The rain abated briefly prior to the first Derek Bell Trophy race and gave drivers a tricky tyre choice. Pole-sitter Michael Lyons (Eagle) plumped for wets while fellow front-row starter Richard Evans (March 742) preferred slicks. Lyons romped away initially – by more than five seconds on the opening lap – but an emerging dry line changed the balance of power and by mid-race the two were together. Evans was unable to find a way through, however, until the 10th of 11 laps.

Lyons won the second race, marred by a sad accident that befell Tim Barry in his freshly (and beautifully) restored ex-Chris Cramer March 76A, a project that had taken several years. Tim crashed heavily at Hill Top and was taken to hospital suffering a fractured left knee and wrist. The race was red-flagged and, as a barometer of just how treacherous things had become, several drivers (the very experienced among them) opted not to take the restart. Simon Arron

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