ROB LAD­BROOK

“Pas­sion makes our sport spe­cial” ”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

Part of what has kept me in love with na­tional mo­tor­sport for so long is the sheer va­ri­ety of it.

I don’t even mean the vast num­ber of rac­ing cham­pi­onships we have to choose be­tween – at 209 in the UK and Ire­land there is a valid point there are per­haps too many al­ready and a bit too much rac­ing go­ing on in that sense.

But what I en­joy mostly is more the va­ri­ety of cars and how they got there. Last week­end’s Brands Hatch Mini Fes­ti­val was a su­perb case.

There can only be one Mini, surely? But which ‘one’ that is largely de­pends on your out­look. From clas­sics, to FIA Ap­pen­dix K en­durance rac­ing ver­sions, to Sev­ens and Miglias, Mighty and even more Mighty and then the tur­bocharged and nat­u­rally as­pi­rated BMW vari­ants of the Mini Chal­lenge. They all have their ap­peal, but my favourite was the Fastest Mini in the World race.

These cars are to­tally bonkers, and it’s the most ran­dom shed-con­cocted ma­chines that re­ally caught my eye.

In this is­sue you can read about two su­perb home-build spe­cials, Les Stan­ton’s bril­liant Yamaha R1-pow­ered Mini Es­tate and Roger Evans’ truly nuts Alfa Romeo Gi­uli­etta/8c hy­brid (see page 9).

The best thing about these cars isn’t their per­for­mance or their sound, it’s the sto­ries and pas­sion be­hind them that brought them to the start­ing grid.

Stan­ton’s car has been six years of hard graft, then the seem­ingly end­less hours of tun­ing and per­fect­ing and the de­ci­sion be­tween the muchloved Suzuki Hayabusa or the Yamaha R1 en­gines.

Evans’ story is just great. A late-night trawl of ebay end­ing up in an im­pulse pur­chase of a fire dam­aged 8C chas­sis from a sal­vage com­pany. Only when it ar­rived did he have a brain­wave of what to ac­tu­ally do with it, and the most nat­u­ral thing was plonk a Gi­uli­etta body on top, purely be­cause “no­body had tried it be­fore”.

Some of the best mo­ments in mo­tor­sport come out of ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and a seem­ingly crazy idea. In an era of mo­tor­sport where so many se­ries are sin­gle-make, op­er­at­ing only for ho­mogenised off-the-shelf cars from a sin­gle sup­plier, it’s re­fresh­ing to see the spirit of the home-built ‘spe­cial’ lives on.

These cars have a per­son­al­ity all their own, and far more chance of build­ing a fan base than a spec for­mula or tin-top racer.

While in the pad­dock I also grabbed a word with the ever­green Bill Richards, who won both the all­com­ers races in his mighty space­frame Mini Metro, af­fec­tion­ately nick­named ‘Bessie’. That car now runs a two-litre Ford Du­ratec en­gine, hav­ing had numer­ous pow­er­plants over the years since it was built Richards’ work­shop in the late 1970s.

“Con­sid­er­ing she’s 40 years old she’s still got some poke,” said Richards with a grin. “I wouldn’t swap her for the world.”

Pas­sion makes mo­tor­sport spe­cial, and it’s good to have cars that re­flect that.

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