Playing with a Dolly

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Our man fields a Triumph in a spirited tin-top tussle  

It took a while but no-one watching the bulging grid of 45 cars entered for the Motor Racing Legends’ Historic Touring Car Challenge at the Silverstone Classic could doubt that this kind of historic tin-top racing has at last taken off.

Nor could the grid have been more varied, with Ford Capris, Rover SD1s and BMW M3s sharing grid space with MG Metros, Alfa GTV6s and even a Renault 5 GT Turbo. Some were on slicks, some on crossplies, all were having a hoot.

I was somewhere down the back of the grid, sharing driving duties with Sarah Bennett-Baggs in MRL’s own Adrian Flux-sponsored and very standard Group 1 Triumph Dolomite Sprint. Up the other end of the grid was my friend and colleague Dickie Meaden in a Capri powered by a full-fat Cosworth GAA motor. I had around 185bhp and skinny treaded Dunlops, he had 484bhp and huge Avon slicks.

I thought the speed differentials might be a problem but, on the Silverstone GP circuit at least, it wasn’t an issue. And for those who feel variety is the spice of life, seeing a steroidal Rover P6 battling it out with a Golf GTI and an Escort RS2000 must have been one of the sights of the weekend.

As for us, we had a ball. We were racing for the Tony Dron Trophy for Group 1 cars and the great man and renowned Dolly racer was there to offer helpful tips, which boiled down to “don’t slow down for anything”. Taking his words to heart, our ex-Spa 24 hours Dolly, called Butch, spent 40 minutes going sideways, taking us to second in our class, about which we were fairly pleased. But nothing like as pleased as to see such a colourful caravan of Seventies and Eighties touring cars at an event as prestigious as this. Hopefully we put on a good show, hopefully we’ll be asked back. Andrew Frankel

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