The Legend Returns for a second go!

There are times when I wonder why we get involved in historic racing. Those times usually involve disasters of one sort or another and when several cars are capable of breaking the potential for disappointment rises proportionately!

At the end of the 2006 season most of the Scalpel cars were basically OK although there were some exceptions. So here is the story of a winter of mild discontent and one piece of wonderful news for the team.

First up is the long running saga of the Huffaker. Remember that story? A blown core plug at Mallory in last years snowy season opener resulted in the engine going to a so-called BMC engine expert in Manchester. What a shambles that turned out to be with the engine returning late and down on power such that the cars entries in the Gold Cup and Goodwood Revival were effectively ruined. The engines went back and have been done again. The current story is that the “good” engine went on the dyno this week – almost a year since the blow up in 2006. I am entering the car in the Mallory event in March and if the engine is no better heads will roll I promise!! The moral of the story is to avoid this particular engine builder – e-mail me for details!!

The leisurely restoration of the Elden FF is nearly complete. The engine is now back in place and the gearbox follows this week. The master plan is to set the car up basically and hand it over to honorary Scalpel hot shoe Simon Diffey. His mission is to go racing with it and gradually set it up properly for racing while having fun at the same time. He is up for it and time will tell soon enough if the car is competitive. I think it should be and it is certainly time the horrible orange and black paintwork was seen racing once more. Remember this car has not been on a UK track since 1973.

Then there was the VDS Chevron B28! Well in this case the news is not too bad believe it or not! At the end of last year the only thing we had never touched was the engine. Yes, you guessed it – the engine is now out of the car, which is down with the remarkable Terry Van der Zee in Dorset. The magnesium welding guru is also a bit of a Chevrolet master and so has been tasked with a freshening job and giving me 50 more bhp as well as a more responsive engine. Oh and the bill has to be tiny as well! I suppose I can dream and as I write this the car is planned to be finished by the end of February – complete with new custom made silencers I am sorry to say. Yes, its true the noise police – or should I say sound police – have succeeded in making it basically impossible to race a F5000 without these evil additions. Actually even without silencers a grid full of F5000 cars is still an impressive thing of beauty.

What about the latest car – the Lola Mk1? Believe it or not this project seems to be progressing well. Don Haldenby has the car down to the bare chassis, which has just been dispatched to have the roll hoop extension fitted prior to shot blasting and painting. The new suspension should be ready in less than one month and the body is ready to be stripped of paint. That “just” leaves the engine and gearbox, which are both down with Rick Hall of ace restorers Hall and Hall. He has promised faithfully to take everything I gave him – 4 blocks and lots of bits – and make me one race engine and a good spare. If you want my guess, I don’t think he has touched them yet but I trust him to deliver on time!!

Of course he is also currently looking after my F1 car – the Surtees TS9B. And here is the wonderful news for 2007. The legendary Derek Bell – one time F1 driver, 5 times Le Mans winner and World Sportscar Champion – has decided he would like to drive the Surtees at the Silverstone Classic in July. Remember he gave the cars its race debut in 1971 at the British GP where he hasted 22 laps before the suspension broke. I am delighted with this news because the man is a legend and frankly just a top bloke with a very real sense of humour. He mostly lives in Boca Raton, in Florida these days and I think this will be great fun for all involved with Ecurie Scalpel.

For anyone interested in historic motor sport the opportunity to see Derek racing is something not to be missed so why not put this event in your diary.

So what about the Crossle, Lotus 20B and Surtees TS8? Not too bad really but that is another days story.


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