On the road, September 2020: a step back in time

Historic Racing

There are many good reasons to rewind the clock, but with the 2020 national calendar awash with historic racing, occasionally you have to remind yourself that this really is 2020…

Panoramic view of Lydden Hill during the September 2020 Historic Racing Drivers Club meeting

Lydden Hill looking impeccable for the Historic Racing Drivers Club

Simon Arron

Historic Racing Drivers Club

Lydden Hill, September 13

No sooner had I driven from the Isle of Arran (no relation) to suburban London than I was back at the wheel, this time in the general direction of France (a large thing with an excellent road network, the agreeable pace of life and a much wider choice of food than UK supermarkets are ever likely to offer). The temptation to keep going until reaching the aforementioned wine-dappled paradise is always strong, but this time there were also tempting morsels to the north of the Channel.

The HRDC’s Historics on the Hill initiative began last year and proved sufficiently popular to justify repetition. The UK calendar might be awash with events for older cars, but everything about this felt like you’d peeled from the A2 and turned sharp left into 1967 (so long as you turned a blind eye to a few 1980s Alfa Romeos). That even stretched to the timetable: a 10.30am start followed by three practice sessions, three qualifying sessions and six 15-minute races, the last of them scheduled to finish just before 4pm to comply with local noise restrictions. That’s how meetings used to be, in the distant days when lunch breaks were long enough to allow marshals (and press, come to that) the luxury of a trip down the road to local pubs.

Start of the Jack Sears Trophy at the September 2020 Historic RAcing Drivers Club meeeting at Lydden Hill

Start of the Jack Sears Trophy

Simon Arron

On this occasion, though, there wasn’t much respite at all for those working trackside, largely because an Alfa had deposited the contents of its sump around a large segment of the lap. Prior to that, the circuit had looked in impeccable condition – and impressively so, given that a BTRDA rallycross event had taken place here 24 hours beforehand.

A pity that pandemic legislation denied members of the public access to some lovely machinery scattered around the paddock (though there were classic car displays elsewhere) – not to mention the chips & mayo sold at the excellent diner within – but promoters and circuits have done a fine job to keep the sport ticking over since it resumed in July. We’ve been fortunate to savour plenty of racing; anything else is a tolerable inconvenience.

Mike Jordan leading Andrew Jordan in the September 2020 Historic Racing Drivers Club meeting at Lydden Hill

Jordan M. leads Jordan A

Simon Arron

This might have been a relatively low-key meeting, but there were some high-profile names on the entry list. As often at HRDC events, rock star Chris Rea was out at the wheel of his police-liveried Morris Minor. And 2013 British Touring Car Championship winner Andrew Jordan was competing alongside father Mike, also a BTCC front-runner in the past, the pair of them swapping and changing between a pair of family-built Austin A40s.

“It’s the first time we’ve run both A40s at the same meeting,” said Mike. “We love doing stuff like this. In the BTCC, there’s so much pressure that you can only really enjoy yourself when you’re winning. Here, it really doesn’t matter if both cars blow up on the opening lap. If that happened, we’d just make ourselves a cuppa and sit down to enjoy watching the racing…”

 

Historic Sports Car Club

Cadwell Park, September 19
David Bain's Mallock U2 Mk11B at the Wolds Trophy meeting at Cadwell Park in September 2020

David Bain’s pristine Mallock U2 Mk11B – during its brief run

Simon Arron

Related article

An autumnal switch had definitely been flicked – and wearing shorts was probably a stupid option, but on mornings such as this you don’t really notice. Clear skies, roof down, cabin heater set to toast, sun rising approximately over Snetterton, Fleet Foxes and assorted slices of prog rock drifting through the speaker system… It would have been a splendid start to the day even without a Cadwell Park sausage bap at the journey’s end.

My car more or less knows its own way to Cadwell, but was deflected on this occasion by the roadworks-enforced closure of the B1192 – an opportunity to explore hitherto unknown roads that are in reality little more than farm tracks. The diversion ended in Tumby, another charming village name in a county rich with such quaintness.

The Wolds Trophy meeting is a popular HSCC staple, but science is powerless to explain why only nine historic touring cars materialised when there were 39 at Brands Hatch in July and 21 at Oulton Park in August. Answers on an entry form, please.

Callum Grant's Delta T78 in the September 2020 Wolds Trophy meeting at Cadwell Park

Double success for Callum Grant’s Delta T78

Simon Arron

It was easier to understand that there were but three takers – Vauxhall Nova, Jaguar XJ-S and Audi Quattro – for the 1980s Production Car Challenge, which ran concurrently with the HTCC. This was the first event for a fresh initiative that has been launched during a period of economic uncertainty, but the concept has potential and must be allowed to evolve. The Classic Clubmans field was low on numbers, too – possibly not helped by a clashing Clubmans Register fixture at Brands Hatch, where HSCC regular Mark Charteris pitched up and won two of the three races. Once David Bain’s gorgeously presented Mallock U2 Mk11B had packed up after a sprinkling of practice laps, the Cadwell field was reduced to just six.

Compensation came in the form of packed entries for both road sports divisions, FF1600 (Historic and Classic) and FF2000, so big in the case of the latter that qualifying races were required. Callum Grant (Delta T78) took a brace of wins in the FF2000 feature races, which isn’t unknown; Pierre Livingston (Merlyn Mk20A) likewise took a clean sweep in HFF1600, which is starting to become a habit.

 

British Racing & Sports Car Club

Brands Hatch, September 26

Caterhams at Brands Hatch during the British Racing & Sports Car Club September 2020 meeting

The original Lotus 7 – progenitor of the modern-day Caterham of the same name – entered production in 1957. Formula Ford 1600 was launched 10 years later. Both are paragons of simplicity – yet, despite their collective conceptual antiquity, continue to generate some of the finest racing in the UK today.
Caterham 7s might lose a little of their elegance when smothered in protective scaffolding, but few things come close in terms of competitive proximity. Except, of course, for Formula Ford, for which there were three races over the course of the weekend. The average winning margin? Just 0.148sec…
Over in Russia, the international sporting community was all a fluster about penalties imposed upon Lewis Hamilton for executing practice starts in the wrong part of the F1 pit lane.

It’s much more edifying, surely, when the ancient art of racing remains the centre of attention?