National reports: Castle Combe; Snetterton; Mallory Park; Silverstone; Knockhill
Ever the great leveller, rain sowed the seeds of an unlikely victory when John Young planted his Mk1 saloon on pole for the Norman Dewis Trophy Pre-’66 Jaguar race, humbling E-type ace Julian Thomas. Come the afternoon, those seeds germinated spectacularly. Essex veteran Young’s sublime car control earned a popular result that was the on-track highlight of the seventh Castle Combe Autumn Classic.
Had Saturday dawned dry, Young wouldn’t have had a prayer in his skinny-tyred, 1350kg 3.4-litre saloon. But with Thomas’s muscular low-drag coupe alongside and the best field of Mk1 and 3.8-litre Mk2s in memory punching above their weight, not to mention a Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club contingent of XKS, Es, a lumbering MKVII and an S-type, continued precipitation played to John’s arm-twirling strengths.
Once Thomas’s monster hooked up at the start, he growled past the lofty black saloon on Avon Rise and stayed narrowly ahead for eight laps. “On the twisty bits John was so much quicker than me,” conceded Thomas afterwards.
“I was sideways quite a lot, but just managed to get past – that did the trick,” smiled his conqueror to podium interviewer Chris Dawes, a sight to behold in hippy garb.
Thomas considered himself fortunate to hang on to second, for Tom Butterfield scrabbled his Mk2 by, only to rotate at Quarry. He recovered to finish fourth behind Andy Keith-lucas in the CKL Developments XK150S, which had duelled with Marc Gordon’s similar car, then staved off the recovering Butterfield to the chequer.
The VSCC’S charismatic Owner-drivermechanic Pre-war set opened the programme in style. At the head of an
11-marque field, young Tom Waterfield skittered his Frazer Nash Super Sports around, battling with Mark Gillies in Dick Skipworth’s Aston Martin 2-litre Speed Model – the last Bertelli Aston, designed to take the Brooklands Outer Circuit class record – until his Meadows engine went flat on lap four of 12.
When it came back on song Waterfield caught Gillies again, but the problem recurred and Waterfield had to nurse it home in second. “The Nash is quick off the corners, but the Aston is magic through them,” said Gillies.
“We were having a great race, then my engine wouldn’t rev, but it was fantastic,” said Waterfield, wringing out his overalls.
Chris Mann brought his stunning Alfa Romeo Monza up from fifth to third. “Those guys are younger and braver than me,” he noted approvingly.
The Austin-healey race was led throughout by top qualifier Bruce Montgomery, but after an adventurous drive Oliver Chatham (son of marque legend John) upheld family honour with second in the afternoon’s closest finish. Chatham had passed fast-starter Mike Thorne’s 100/4 and was homing in on Montgomery when he gyrated. “I saw them [David Grace and Thorne] pass me as I went backwards through Quarry, which wasn’t ideal,” he admitted. When Grace also had a moment, Thorne pounced for a superb third. Best Sprite was always Drew Cameron’s, which slipped from second to a lonely fifth.
On a rapidly drying track reigning champion Peter de la Roche made the early Formula Junior running in Pat Barford’s
Lola Mk3, before prototype racer Richard Bradley (understandably cautious on his first wet standing start in his Brabham BT2) powered past for a maiden UK win.
De la Roche spun at the Esses, promoting Stuart Roach (Alexis Mk4) and Adrian Russell (Lotus 22), with whom he scrapped to the flag, content that another class win was enough to retain his crown. In a field in which the top nine finishers were from different constructors, sixth-placed
Nick Taylor (ELVA-BMC 100) dominated the front-engined contingent.
Martyn Corfield led both ends of
FISCAR’S diverse and well-populated Historic Intermarque race in his rorty
Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica Mk2. Robin Ellis’s zippy Lotus Elite went ahead on lap five of 19, but having relayed Richard Fores a loud “bang” on acceleration from the Esses heralded a loss of drive. Corfield thus won from Stephen Bond (Lister-bristol ‘Flat Iron’), who overhauled Marc Gordon (XK150) on the penultimate lap. Brian Arculus (Elite) salvaged fourth for the Lotus team.
Once through the Mini Cooper S flotilla that had topped the qualifying order,
Michael Squire (Ford Mustang) and Julian Thomas (Falcon) controlled the Terry Sanger Trophy touring car finale, trading fastest laps as they wagged their V8 monsters’ tails to increasingly impressive angles. Alas they circulated around 10 seconds apart, unlike the seven-car chasing group from which Mini duo Steve Maxted and Dan Lewis prevailed over Chris Clarkson’s Falcon, Nick Stagg’s Lotus Cortina and Paul Inch’s Mini.
A rain-soaked track favoured Young’s (31) heavy, softer Mk1
Mark Gillies’s Aston leads VSCC pack
Squire’s Mustang usurped Minis for touring car glory