Hum­ble Pye: the voice of club rac­ing

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Mar­cus Pye, the voice of club rac­ing @au­tosport

WOW! COULD THERE HAVE BEEN A BET­TER CLI­MAX to For­mula Ford’s 50th an­niver­sary sea­son than the an­nual Walter Hayes Tro­phy ex­trav­a­ganza at Sil­ver­stone, sup­port for which now eclipses the tra­di­tional Bri­tish Rac­ing and Sports Car Club Fes­ti­val at Brands Hatch? I don’t be­lieve so.

Not only was the ac­tion on the Na­tional Cir­cuit (which pro­vided sen­sa­tional rac­ing at last month’s His­toric Sports Car Club Cham­pi­onship Fi­nals) breath­tak­ing, but the sheer range and eclec­ti­cism of ma­chin­ery – in­clud­ing mighty Le Mans Pro­to­types and an in­trigu­ing Volvo S60 (see be­low) car­i­ca­ture – was un­par­al­leled too.

Af­ter a mis­er­ably wet Satur­day, which en­abled the quick­est His­toric FF rac­ers to out­run mod­ern hard­ware in com­pli­ant pre-1972 chas­sis pow­ered by the same ven­er­a­ble Ford Kent en­gines, Sun­day’s con­di­tions were con­sid­er­ably more pleas­ant and favoured more mod­ern kit. All as it should be, of course, but with an en­thu­si­as­tic spec­ta­tor turnout bask­ing in bright sun­shine and We­ber car­bu­ret­tors gulp­ing crisp, cold au­tumn air, the com­pe­ti­tion was faster and yet more fu­ri­ous.

With three-time WHT vic­tor and reign­ing Brands Hatch Fes­ti­val win­ner Joey Foster out of the equa­tion early in the fi­nal, the Cas­tle Combe posse cov­ered it­self in glory. Both newly crowned num­ber one Josh Fisher and his clos­est ri­val, last month’s Car­ni­val win­ner Michael Moy­ers, would have been de­served vic­tors, but with strong home sup­port Moy­ers found the edge in a Kevin Mills Rac­ing Spec­trum – by the skin of his teeth!

At the podium pre­sen­ta­tion it was dif­fi­cult to tell who was more emo­tional, Michael or dad Pete, uni­ver­sally known as ‘Fer­ret,’ who has mas­ter­minded the prepa­ra­tion of Sil­ver­stone’s school car fleet for decades.

Fisher, son of triple Combe Spe­cial GT champ Brian, was mag­nan­i­mous in de­feat and hid his dis­ap­point­ment well. Third in the WHT on three pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions (brother Felix also bagged bronze in 2009) Fisher had set a new per­sonal best, and praised his great ad­ver­sary’s hard-won tri­umph.

As an im­par­tial by­stander, my only re­gret over the fi­nal was that when there was a spec­tac­u­lar in­ci­dent at Brook­lands the race was not red-flagged. The first semi-fi­nal had been stopped for a se­ri­ous im­pact at the exit of that cor­ner.

This time none of the driv­ers was stuck in an im­mo­bile car, but with groups of mar­shals tend­ing three dis­abled ma­chines spread over per­haps 50 me­tres (one mi­nus a wheel, an­other with a buck­led cor­ner) a stop­page would have cre­ated a safer en­vi­ron­ment than waved yel­low flags with the field ar­riv­ing ev­ery minute or so. Time for a restart of de­cent length was never an is­sue.

The ded­i­cated His­toric FF race, which also em­braced the pre-’82 Clas­sic set, was epic. The fight be­tween HFF pro­tag­o­nists Cal­lum Grant, Michael Mal­lock, Ben Mitchell and Richard Tar­ling, with CFF’S Mike Gard­ner in on the act, was one of the great­est con­tests I’ve ever wit­nessed.

Fran­tic slip­stream­ing on the Welling­ton Straight pre­saged heart-stop­ping ‘bomb-bursts’ as four cars ap­proached Brook­lands abreast. Tar­ling’s bril­liantly en­gi­neered vic­tory be­fit­ted this year’s cham­pion, but Mal­lock and Mitchell – in my Jimmy’s Iced Cof­fee Mer­lyn Mk20, en­gine em­bold­ened since Brands Hatch in July – fin­ished within 0.196s.

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