Wheel to wheel -- the month in historic motorsport

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Morris ERA takes Seaman honours — Donington Park VSCC See Red, September 3/4

For the 17th time in the car’s illustrious history, ERA R11B won the Historic Seaman Trophy during the VSCC’s See Red meeting at Donington Park. All bar one of those wins have come at the hands of the Morris family, and David duly continued the run of success of his father by taking his sixth victory in this famous race.

The Historic Seaman was first won by R11B back in 1959 with Douglas Hull aboard, but since the 1960s Martin Morris and his son have often dominated. This time around a charging Mark Gillies almost caused an upset in ERA R3A. “I made an awful start and had to work really hard,” explained Morris, who initially ran third behind John Ure, racing ERA AJM1 for the first time this season.

While Gillies made the running, Morris gave his all in a dogged pursuit and was close enough with two laps to run to worry Gillies under braking for the chicane. With a pack of backmarkers looming, the ERAs were even closer a lap later and Morris looked for the inside line. Gillies left his braking perilously late and the back wheels locked up before starting to hop in true ERA fashion. While R3A looped into a spin, Morris nipped ahead and sealed his win.

“The backmarkers really helped me,” said Morris generously after a mighty drive. Fourth, behind Ure and Stefan Schollwöck’s Maserati 6014, was poor reward for Gillies.

The Vintage Seaman Trophy was a rather more straightforward affair, as Julian Majzub quickly took the Bentley Pacey Hassan clear of the Bugatti T35B of 2004 victor Michael Gans. Driving the Bentley with typical gusto, Majzub romped away but considered himself fortunate to finish when the engine dropped onto three cylinders during the slowing-down lap.

Gans, however, had his own concerns as a major oil leak left lubricant cascading down both sides of the engine cover. He came close to getting a black flag, but escaped censure to finish second with his crash helmet covered in oil. “It was making it more exciting,” said Gans as oil spilled onto a rear wheel. “I still had good oil pressure,” he confirmed.

The third of the VSCC’s major trophies on offer was the Flockhart Trophy, which was convincingly won by Philip Walker’s Lotus 16. In the early stages Tony Smith gave chase in his Ferrari 246 Dino, but it was leaking coolant and Smith understandably eased back on the freshly rebuilt engine, allowing Nick Wigley’s Connaught through to second.

One of the biggest ever fields of 250Fs made the Maserati race very special, and it was Mark Hales who emerged for victory after a hectic race in Nick Mason’s chassis 2530. From pole Barrie Williams led the field away, but he suffered a major transmission failure as the pack powered out of Redgate. Hales was tucked up behind ‘Whizzo’ and couldn’t avoid clipping the stricken car as it slowed suddenly.

That delayed Hales considerably, as Barrie Baxter set the pace in the Tec Mec 250F, out for the first time since Goodwood in 2004. “I hadn’t sat in it for a year, so I was taking a while to get the pace back,” said Baxter. Despite being race-rusty, he led until Hales fought his way up into contention and eased ahead at two-thirds distance.

“I was starting to get a bit more ragged,” said Baxter of losing the lead to Hales. But Baxter’s pace was enough to fend off José Albuquerque for second as Allan Miles and Rick Hall completed the top five in two more 250Fs.

Although he was feeling decidedly unwell, David Mercer claimed a comprehensive Group C/GTP double in his Spice SE90C to maintain a 100 per cent podium record this season. On Saturday Gary Pearson led in his Jaguar XJR-11 until a misfire and then more serious oil-scavenge pump problems put the car out. Justin Law came through to take second in Nick Rini’s XJR-12D.

Mercer led all the way on Sunday as young Simon Pullan starred by tigering through from the back of the grid to finish second in a Porsche 962C. His pace took him ahead of a great battle between Jim Mullen (Spice GTP) and Nigel James (Spice SE86) which finally fell to Mullen.

“It was a lot of fun and the best part was racing with Nigel,” said Mullen. Having hit engine dramas in his Porsche 962 in testing, James had fetched his ‘for-sale’ Spice from Phil Stott’s nearby workshops in time for qualifying.

Although he would later lose out on the Historic Seaman Trophy, Mark Gillies at least took home the laurels from the drum-brake sportscar race after putting his Maserati 300S clear of the chasing pack. A spirited pursuit from John Clark kept his nimble Cooper ‘Bobtail’ within reach of the Maserati, but Gillies had a couple of seconds in hand at the flag.

The concluding HGPCA Pre-66 Grand Prix car race was cut short when Brian Horwood spun his Lotus 18/21 at Coppice and was collected by the Cooper T53 of Chris Bullimore. Neither driver was harmed, but with the cars stranded on the track the race was halted and results taken at six laps. At the time John Harper (Brabham BT4) was just starting to inch away from Michael Schryver’s Lotus 18, although there was little to choose between them.

Derek Walker (Terrier) and Tony Goodwin (Gemini) had a close battle for the front-engined Formula Junior spoils until Walker spun at Coppice and handed Goodwin a fair lead. Walker quickly recovered and passed Stuart Roach (Alexis) and Mark Woodhouse (Elva 100) as he chased back to second.

Finally, the ‘Large and Large’ team, captained by Julian Bronson, won the two-hour pre-war team sportscar race on Saturday evening.

***

Burton tailors Oulton success  —  HSCC Oulton Park Gold Cup, August 28/29

It was wholly appropriate that two iconic drivers from Chevron’s history were among the stars of the HSCC’s Gold Cup as 40 years of the local marque were celebrated at the timeless Cheshire track.

Neither John Burton nor Brian Redman had raced at Oulton in three decades, but Burton won in his B26 and Redman thrilled the fans as he climbed back into a single-seater for the first time in several seasons. His fighting fourth place in the Chevron single-seater encounter on Monday was a highlight of a day crammed with magnificent racing.

“That meant a lot to me,” admitted Burton after winning Sunday’s Chevron sportscar race. Competing at Oulton for the first time since the ill-fated 1969 Gold Cup — during which Paul Hawkins lost his life in a fiery accident — Burton had to see off a concerted challenge from former F3 ace Martin O’Connell at the wheel of Sandy Watson’s B19. Only when the rotor arm in the B19 failed did Burton get to relax.

Burton generously stood down from Monday’s race to give his old pal Ed Swart a run in the B26, and it was Mike Catlow who set the pace in his B19, a ‘mere’ 16 years after his last race at the circuit. But O’Connell fired his B19 through from the back and finished almost level with Catlow. “I thought he was going to catch me,” admitted Catlow. “He wasn’t letting me past,” countered O’Connell with a grin.

Having swapped his B37 F5000 for an F2 B40, Simon Hadfield still blitzed the Chevron single-seater race, although Gareth Burnett (B40) and Christian Fischer (B25) gave stern chase. Burnett then fell foul of a backmarker and spun out, while Fischer fell away as his B2 S’s gearing left it out of breath on the straights. With Burnett out, MotorSport columnist Marcus Pye (in Hadfield’s B37) had his hands full in keeping Redman’s B42 at bay for the final podium position.

As is often the case, Hadfield was a prolific winner, including blasting to both Derek Bell Trophy races in the well-used B37. Fischer hopped into his March 772 for these races and was better able to keep the ex-Peter Gethin car in sight.

Hadfield’s fourth win was shared in Frank Sytner’s AC Cobra during the Gentleman Drivers Sports GT Endurance race. With the race starting on a very wet track it made for a fascinating contest, and in the early stages virtuoso performances from Gary Pearson, in his Cooper Bobtail, and James Diffey (Porsche 904/6) were real highlights. But as the track dried Sytner’s patience was rewarded, and Hadfield completed the job after the driver changes.

The penultimate BRDC Historic Sports Car Championship round was a barnstormer, but sadly finished with acrimony. The wet qualifying session left the grid mightily shuffled, but Graeme Dodd pulled off a monster start to rocket his Cooper Monaco from eighth on the grid to second at Old Hall. He promptly spun on the exit of the corner: his relentless pursuit of Philip Walker’s Lotus 15 was mesmerising, but it sadly ended in contact after they ran side-by-side through Old Hall and down to Cascades. While Dodd won, an incensed Walker spun to fourth. “It’s a real shame it ended up like that,” said Dodd.

Sean Walker and Martin Stretton had a magical Lotus Elan 26R battle in the Classic Sports counter, with Walker just edging it as Stretton ran short on brakes. “It’s a privilege to beat him,” joked the ex-BTCC man after the race.

Other memorable races included a fine Historic Saloon victory for James Dodd’s Alfa Romeo and an epic Historic FF1600 win for Neil Fowler after an edge-of-the-seat battle with Nelson Rowe.

***

Specials honoured at ‘Seca — Monterey Historic: Laguna Seca, August 19-24

In a major departure from the exotic Ferraris, Porsches and such that usually feature at the Monterey Historic races at Laguna Seca, this year the honours fell to Jim Hall’s bewinged Chaparrals and a glorious assortment of American and Canadian racing cars and specials.

The Petroleum Museum, where Hall’s creations now reside, brought examples of 2, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2H, 2J and 2K, to the delight of the fans. Hall’s son Jim Jr and former drivers Vic Elford and Brian Redman took in plenty of demo laps but did not race, though private owners campaigned three front-engined Mk1s.

In addition there were two Scarabs, a pair of Cunninghams, a Cheetah and five of the nine Ol’ Yellers.  Devin bodyshells clothed chassis of everything from Crosleys to Chevies. Canada was represented by a Sadler Mk2 and a Mk5, plus the Dailu and Witton specials.

In the pre-war race Mark Gillies was victorious in ERA R2A. Further down the field was event organiser Steve Earle in the Cunningham Bu-Merc. Bobby Rahal trounced the Corvettes to take the early 1960s GT race in his Ferrari 250SWB, while the late 1950s sports-racing class featured a Scarab one-two, with Don Knowles in the Mk1 taking the win over Brian Redman’s replica and a host of Listers, Devins and Maseratis. A Cobra 289 took victory in the mid-1960s GT race over a pack of Sting Rays and GT350s. Top race of the weekend pitted Dennis Aker in the ex-Pete Lovely 1954 Pooper’ (Porsche-powered Cooper streamliner) against Bill Perronne in a Porsche 550 Spyder. They swapped places constantly yet never touched, unlike many other drivers. Aker eked out the win.

Chaparral Mk1s led the mid-1960s sports-racer class with Paul Brown and Rob Walton in first and second, besting lesser-known marques including Genie, Platypus, LeGrand, Kellison and Webster. Most significant of these was the 1962 Campbell Special, the first mid-engined Chevy-powered race car. Other races were won by Rob Walton (Jaguar C-type), Steve Cook (McLaren M6B), Bruce Canepa (Porsche 935), Jamey Mazzotta (Lola T294), Jim Click (Ford GT) and Jan Voboril (1924 Ford Barber Warnock special). The final race of the weekend was for Trans-Am sedans, with Mark Mountanos enjoying the taste of victory in a Chaparral-built 1970 Camaro.

Elsewhere on the Monterey Peninsula the Pebble Beach Concours displayed Alfa Romeo racing models from P3s to Tipo 33s. The Quail featured racers from the Carrera Panamericana, while Concorso Italiano showcased some rare competition Abarths.

***

No luck needed for Irish Lola duo — Classic Endurance: Silverstone, August 13

The prodigious talent of former F3 driver Kevin McGarrity ensured that he shared victory with Lola boss Martin Birrane in the hour-long Classic Endurance race that supported the Le Mans Endurance Series headline event at Silverstone.

Initially it was the Osella PA4 of Louis Zurstrassen that set the pace but, on pitting for wet tyres, a distinct shortage of pit crew saw him drop down to an eventual seventh. The Irish Lola duo then took their T212 to the flag with over 40 seconds in hand as an increasingly wet track allowed McGarrity to romp away from the field at a remarkable rate.

Birrane did the first stint, handing the car to McGarrity in fourth place. A slick stop and a big push from the young charger put the Lola well clear. As the rain increased things became less comfortable for McGarrity and he struggled over the final few tours.

The Chevron B16s of Michel Quiniou and veteran John Sheldon led the chase, but both endured spins in the closing laps and so it was the Porsche 911 RSR of former F1 man Alex Caffi running second. That was until the 911RS of Charles Rupp/Gilles Boyer got ahead on the last lap.

***

Lotus driver wins Brands Junior race — AMOC Formula Junior: Brands Hatch, August 29

Barry Westmoreland claimed victory in the latest round of the AMOC Historic Formula Junior Championship as the club ran its first race meeting at Brands Hatch for several seasons.

Westmoreland maintained his excellent 2005 campaign and was never headed in his Lotus 22. He was keeping Andrew Hibberd (Lotus 22) and Simon Armer (Cooper T59) at arm’s length when the race was red-flagged on the 10th lap.

Hibberd was destined not to feature in the published results as his car was the cause of the stoppage. In company with Duncan Rabagliati’s Alexis, Hibberd slid Into the gravel trap at Clearways and forced the red flag.

Preparation ace Matthew Watts duly moved up to third in a Lola Mk 5A as Stuart Roach again headed the front-engined cars in his Alexis.

***

Perkins flies at the ‘Ring — Oldtimer Grand Prix: Nürburgring, August 13/14

Chris Perkins scored his first Grand Prix Masters victory during the 33rd running of the Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. The airline pilot triumphed in the opening race in his Surtees TS16.

A tangle put Peter Wuensch and David Coplowe out and Joaquin Folch retired his McLaren M23. But, in a shortened wet race the following day, Folch repeated his 2004 victory by heading Perkins and Peter Williams (March 761). Folch then took a pre-60 Grand Prix car double in his Lotus 16.

Paul Knapfield, in his Ferrari 512BBLM, and Richard Meins (Lola T70) shared World Sportscar Masters wins. Meins came close to beating the Ferrari in the opener until a mid-race spin. He made amends by winning on Sunday.

Other notable wins went to Urs Eberhardt (Lotus 27) in Formula Junior and Michael Schryver (Lotus 18) in the Pre-66 HGPCA race. Despite a spin in the second race, Schryver recovered to complete the double. In the pre-war GP car encounters Charles Dean (Bugatti T51) and Thomas Bscher (Alfa Romeo Tipo B) claimed the wins.

Richard Piper (McLaren M8F) and Sven Barth (Lola T294) shared the Orwell Supersports Cup spoils. On Saturday John Grant (McLaren M8C/D) led Piper and Frank Bradley (March 707) until the March suffered a blown engine and Piper passed Grant on the last lap. A wet track on Sunday saw Barth win comfortably from Piper and Grant.

***

Carlsson, Erik in Swedish thrash — Lurani Trophy: Anderstorp, August 26-28

A clash with the Oulton Park Gold Cup weakened the Formula Junior grid for the trek to Anderstorp and the fifth Lurani Trophy round. The grid was further reduced when Anders Ericsson picked up a viral infection and had to withdraw his ex-Picko Troberg Lola Mk 5.

From the dozen cars that arrived at the former Swedish GP venue, Volvo engineer Jorgen Carlsson (Merlyn Mk3) saw off former Lurani title winner Erik Justesen (Merlyn Mk 5) and the Lotus 18 of reigning champion Kevin Musson in the two-part race.

In the opening race Duncan Rabaghati’s Alexis led home the front-engined cars, but he was denied a double when the throttle cable broke. Instead, Ingvar Maim took his Elva 100 to aggregate front-engined victory.

***

McGarrity stars in ‘Ring enduro — Classic Endurance: Nürburgring, September 4

Kevin McGarrity and Martin Birrane claimed a commanding victory in the Classic Endurance race at the Nürburgring.  Racing Birrane’s Lola T212, they started from pole and went on to dominate the race, with McGarrity’s stunning pace underpinning their deserved success.

***

Gläsel romps towards title — Thoroughbred GP: Magny-Cours, September 2-4

Christian Gläsel strengthened his bid for the FIA Thoroughbred Grand Prix title with a brace of wins at a sweltering Magny-Cours. Victory in both races as title rival Steve Hartley hit engine dramas in qualifying put the Brabham BT49D racer ahead in the series standings.

Hartley’s weekend was over almost before it started. The Mirage Motorsport team had worked tirelessly to reinstall the engine in his Arrows A6, but a single lap of practice with the car trailed by smoke signalled the end.

The opening race ended up being a rather confused two-parter when Rodrigo Gallego hit problems and parked his Minardi on the racing line. The restart put a question mark over fuel and, while Gläsel cleared off, Hubertus Bahlsen’s Arrows A4 ran dry. The results were taken back three laps, putting him on the podium behind Gläsel and John Wilson.

In race two Gläsel won by over half a minute from Bahlsen. and Wilson’s Tyrrell.

***

Wolf whistles to win at Le Mans — Grand Prix Masters, Le Mans, Sept 3/4

An overcrowded calendar meant slim fields for both Grand Prix Masters and World Sportscar Masters at the Le Mans Bugatti races. In the F1 events Peter Wuensch’s Wolf WR1 won from Alistair Morrison (Lotus 72).

In race two Frank Lyons (McLaren M26) took the fight to Wuensch but lost third gear and had to settle for second.  Best in the opening World Sportscar Masters race was José Segimon, who took his Lola T70 to victory over the similar cars of André Bailly and Carlos Barbot. On Sunday Barbot won as Jerry Hooper’s Chevron B8 topped the 2-litre cars.

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