Historic racing news

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Jones sets new record…

…as steam power makes a competitive comeback | By Paul Lawrence

A new outright hill record topped a highly successful second running of the Chateau Impney hillclimb revival. From a capacity field of 200 pre-1968 cars, Gloucestershire driver Martin Jones took the fastest time of the day in 40.50sec, taking almost two seconds off the record set 12 months ago by Jack Woodhouse.

More regularly seen competing at Prescott, Jones hustled his Brabham BT21B to the top award at the Droitwich venue and was elated to take his first overall win in 30 years of hillclimbing.

On his way to victory, Jones had to see off a determined challenge from the Formula Junior pack and hillclimb newcomer Callum Grant finished second, 0.6sec adrift in the Merlyn Mk5/7 made famous by the late Denis Welch.

A little bit of history was made during the weekend when a steam-powered car competed in a UK motor sport event for the first time in more than a century. Cornwall-based Bob Dyke ran a recreation of the 1905 White Steam Racer known as Whistling Billy in the class for Edwardian cars.

Until recently, the MSA prohibited steam cars from taking part in competitive motor sport but Dyke finally persuaded the governing body to allow him to compete. The original car was successful in the US in the early 1900s. His pace was moderated by concern for the engine block, so he limited boiler pressure to 600psi.

XJ13 on track at Le Mans

Two pieces of Jaguar motor sport history were made at Classic Le Mans, when the XJ13 finally made its debut at the track and a continuation lightweight E-type raced for the first time (in the Jaguar Classic Challenge).

The unraced XJ13 took to the French track in a Jaguar parade, 50 years after it was built for the 24-hour race. The 1966 5-litre V12-engined project was shelved when Le Mans regulations moved to a 3-litre limit. 

Top Gear presenter Chris Harris raced chassis number 15, one of six competition E-types cars built recently to 1963 specification, but the car retired with an engine problem.

HRDC outlines Jaguar plan 

The Historic Racing Drivers’ Club has unveiled plans for a new race series for pre-1966 Jaguar saloons.

Beginning next year, the Coombs Jaguar Challenge will be for all saloon models of a type that raced in period from 1950 to 1966 and is designed to build on the success of the HRDC’s entry-level, one-make Academy Series for Austin A30/35 cars.

“We’ve looked into this in a big way and there is a strong need to run the touring cars away from the sports cars,” said HRDC boss Julius Thurgood.

“We’ve had a growing number of Jaguars racing with the HRDC and there are more bubbling below the surface. There seem to be more Mk1s coming out than ever, including some that have been dormant for a while.”

Over the balance of 2016, a class for the Jaguars will run within the HRDC’s Touring Greats Series, but the aim is for stand-alone Jaguar grids next year.

F1 returns to Oulton Park

Period Grand Prix cars will return to Oulton Park on August 27-29, when the Historic Grand Prix Cars Association’s Pre ’66 series headlines the HSCC’s Gold Cup meeting.

After an absence of several years, the HGPCA cars will contest a pair of races and the Gold Cup will be awarded to the aggregate winner.

A year after the circuit opened, a non-championship Formula 1 race in August 1954 was named the Gold Cup. Stirling Moss took the first of five Gold Cup wins, despite starting his Maserati 250F from the back of the grid, and later gave the innovative Ferguson P99 four-wheel drive F1 car it’s only victory in the 1961 race.

Hulme honoured at Taupo

The life of New Zealand’s
most successful Grand Prix driver, 1967 world champion Denny Hulme, will be celebrated at the Taupo circuit on the country’s North Island next January. 

Fifty years on from Hulme’s success, the celebration will be topped by the first-ever visit to New Zealand of a field of Formula 1 cars from the 1960s and ’70s. These will include an ex-James Hunt McLaren M26 and an ex-Hulme M23.

Former GP driver Chris Amon, who lives in Taupo, said: “I’m really looking forward to seeing cars from my era.”

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