"White Lightening" loaded up and ready to go
New winch and upgraded tow car
Class win at a cold and wet Oulton Park
CSCC Swinging 60s Oulton Park First race of the season and my very first trip to Oulton Park. Covid restrictions meant I had to sleep in my car in sub-zero conditions - not fun. Quali was obviously a voyage of discovery curtailed by a gearbox blow-up on another car which meant I got 6 or 7 flying laps only. 6th on the grid of 40 cars was OK in the circumstances. In the collecting area, for the race, the sleet and rain started which caused a few accidents in the previous race and shortened our race to 30 minutes. Oulton in the cold and wet for your first race there is pretty intimidating and more a matter of survival. I cocked-up my pit stop timer so our pit stop was 13 seconds too long at our first try of the Covid stop process. I ended up 8th overall behind 7 Minis and a Spridget.
3rd in quali and over 3 seconds faster
CSCC Swinging 60s Thruxton. Back to Thruxton and I'd been thinking about how to approach this incredibly fast track. The race was mixed Group 1 and Group 2 so we were with the faster Group 2 cars and 43 on track. When I finally got a clear lap, I got a 1:31.04 - over 3s faster than I'd ever done before and good enough for 3rd on the grid. Getting that time at Thruxton is all about maintaining momentum and letting the car flow. The race was more eventful than I would want. A minor bump with the Tonge/Winter Mini after I thought I had made a clear and clean pass was debated with the stewards after the race and deemed 50:50. I also passed a wayward novice backmarker Mini under yellow after not spotting the flags which distracted by the Mini nearly running the car ahead of me off the road. The stewards were sympathetic and gave me the minimum (for CSCC) Formal Reprimand and 2 points. I finished the race 6th overall, winner both of my class and the group.
4th in quali and safe back in the paddock
CSCC Swinging 60s Cadwell Park. After Thruxton, I found a crack in the bell housing so arranged for Dave Ashford at Brunswick to squeeze my car in for that work and an engine check-over. To try to understand the cracking issue, we fitted a "rattler" flywheel from Alfaholics. on picking up the car, we spotted a crack in the rear Watts crossmember. The guys jumped to it and sorted it out so that I could go racing. Quali was rather frustrating with a BMW not really "playing ball" and lettimg me by (I ended up 2.3s a lap faster). I rather overcooked it in Hall Bends, got on the grass and then the tyres. A broken electrical connection prevented me rejoining and, from provisional pole, I dropped to 4th ex 28 in the dying minutes. The race was fairly uneventful and I finally finished 3rd overall, 1st in class, 2nd fastest lap. That's 3 class wins out of 3, one outright win and one 3rd
Pole at Knockhill
CSCC Swinging 60s Knockhill. A busy week ahead of the race weekend trying to inderstand why the starter sounded horrible and sorting the cracked bell housing. Also replacing the Watts crossmember and fixing it to the seatbelt reinforcing plates on the back seat. Also discovered that the trailing arm bushes on the nearside had come loose and the steering box arm was loose, akso replacing rear discs - lots to keep an eye on. Then the long drive to Scotland. Qualifying was good - ended up on pole by around 0.9s despite outbraking myself into the hairpin and potentially throwing away 0.5s. Ended quali early because the clutch slave cylinder circlip came loose. When i got back to the paddock, I noticed drips of oil which were coming from a split oil cooler. We tried running without it, believing in the wet it should be OK but the oil pressure started to drop 7 laps into the race so abandoned and DNF'd. Bizarrely I left with class lap record because CSCC had never raced there before...
Ready to go
CSCC Swinging 60s Snetterton. I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of Snetterton. It has always been biblically wet when I have raced there and it has the feel of an indoor kart circuit: sqeezing as much track into the available space in a serpentine manner. The Alfa is a "rear-limited" car - great front-end grip but not so great at the back. It is also heavier (at 830-ish kg) than the Minis and Spidgets I normally compete with who run below 600kg. Consequently, the Alfa loves fast, flowing, circuits where the corners are 90deg or less but is far less competitive where the corners start coming back on themselves. At Snetterton, most of the corners are the latter. With the cooler fixed, the car ran OK and I got a class win but I was over-driving the car and had to give myself a good talking to at the pit stop. a race to forget.
CSCC Swinging 60s Brands GP. Brands Indy circuit is another I don't much care for but the opportunity to race at the GP circuit doesn't come up too often. It is a fab circuit and I really enjoyed it and qualified 2nd in class to the unbelieveably fast MGA in a combined Group 1 and Classic K grid. The race was going OK but, after the pitstop, I picked up a really bad vibration and, having just overhauled the prop shaft, discretion seemed to be the better part of valour, so abandoned. We did wonder if it was just rubber pick up on the tyres from the GT cars. Anyhow, a DNF
Not how god intended
HRDC Classic Alfa Challenge Castle Combe. Combe was only two days after Brands so I had little time to check anything but there was a great deal of pick up on the tyres and the prop seemed fine. Qualifying proved that we hadn't found the issue and after just 4 laps (and 7th on the grid) I abandoned. The starter motor was lying in the engine bay and closer inspection revealed that the bell housing was pretty much braken in two and the gearbox, which was no longer technically attached to the engine, was not in good shape either. Truth be told I don't quite remember when it was last looked at so it doesn't owe me much. Dave Ashford, at Brunswick Automotive, did his usual magic and sorted it for me in super-quick time
CSCC Swinging 60s Anglesey International. It's a long way to Anglesey so I had my fingers crossed that the car wasn't going to give me a fourth DNF of the year. If the distance was not already enough of a problem, a self-inflicted fuel crisis made it extra challenging. The race was a combined Group 1 and Group 2 race on (my less favoured) International circuit. The weather stayed dry though and I qualified 11th overall and 3rd in group 1. In race 1 on Saturday, all went pretty well apart from discovering I had pretty bad brake judder as I did the warm up lap. This was probably brake pick up after quali where I took a wrong turn and ended up braking at a closed gate. Anyhow, it was actually less bad under heavy braking and I finished 15th overall, 4th in group 1 and 1st in class despite my 30s success penalty. Race 2 on Sunday was with the outcome of race 1. This time I finished 11th overall, 3rd in group 1 and with another class win.
61 car grid! (photo Andy Fotheringham)
CSCC Swinging 60s & Classic K, Silverstone GP. First outing for me on the GP circuit and it is fab. With a combined grid of 61 cars plus qualifying reserves, there must have been close to 70 cars on track - though, bizarrely, it didnt feel like it. The car behaved well and the new brakes were good and I qualified 16th overall, 4th in Group and 2nd in class behind the very quick MGA of Smith/Smith. As happens in these combined races, I found myself battling a big 4.7 litre Shelby Mustang on historic tyres for the first 4 laps. Fortunately the extended pit stop ended that as we were tripping over each other. I was to pass him later in the race. I ended up finishing 3rd in group and 1st in class.
Father and daughter
HRDC Dunlop All Stars & Classic Alfa Challenge, Silverstone GP Historic. We were greeted with foul weather (it was the end of October, after all) in the morning and first out on circuit. There were several significant crashes with both Chris Whelan and Chris Snowdon coming to grief - the latter on the Hanger Straight - such were the conditions with lots of standing water. I ended up 9th overall and something like 3rd in group but driving was just a matter of survival - and getting used to the Historic Vale configuration which was new. The race was on a drying track with a clear, silvery, line of oil. I got a good start and, before the end of lap 1, I had made my way up to 3rd behind a sliding Mk2 Jag and the pole-sitter Mini. I got past the Mini just using shear grunt but got stuck behind the Jag - getting alongside only to be outpaced down the ling straights. This allowed James Colburn to catch up the group and a 4-way battle ensued until James snuck by whilst I was distracting the Jag. When i finally got by, James was nearly 5 seconds up the road. I caught up with him but ran out of laps to pass and finished just 3/4 sec behind - 2nd overall (again) and with fastest lap by nearly 0.5s. Afterwards I found my troublesome gearchanges was because I had no clutch actuation. That, in turn, turned out to be yet another failed bell housing. Need to find the root cause.
The fridge-top trophy cabinet for 2021