CADWELL PARK, 26 JUNE 2005

GRASS CUTTING IN THE NURBURGRING

Well not quite the Nurburgring but Cadwell Park has always been known as the Mini-‘Ring and with good reason. The circuit is a wonderful test of car and driver swooping up and down through the Lincolnshire fields and even having its own mountain! Fast sweeping bends contrast with the tightest corners around where there is no margin for error.

The plan was to run the Elva-BMW and Lotus 20B now ably managed on the day by Stuart Riley from Goole who has stepped in to run the cars on race day for Don Haldenby. Don still prepares the cars but has decided 5am starts are not needed anymore at 77 years of age – who can blame him?

First up was the Elva in qualifying for the Classic Sports Car race and from the outset it was clear the main opposition was going to be Rob Hartley in the Simon Hadfield prepared Elva – this one with a hot twin cam in the back. In very hot sunshine the session went well and although I never really got a clear lap I was not too disappointed to be on the front row beside pole man – Rob Hartley!

Out of one car and straight into the Lotus for qualifying was not a great idea but needs must. The car ran foul of the scrutineers because of no silencer and hurried work managed to attach a “supertrap” device. Feeling rather under the weather with sinusitis is my excuse for finishing second in class for the Classic Racing cars event although ahead of a couple of FF and F2 cars.

The temperature was quite high when we went to the grid with the Elva. The plan was simple enough – away first and lead all the way. However yours truly grabbed far too much wheel spin and was second into the first corner. One lap was enough to work it out – I was much faster around the first complex of sweepers and then again at the end of the back straight into the Gooseneck downhill plunge. On the other hand Rob was just as quick everywhere else.

The pace was quite hot when I decided enough was enough and stuck the car down the inside under braking at the end of the back straight. Inside wheels on the grass and a small nudge into Rob and we had the lead!! Dummy that I am I them missed a gear coming out of the Gooseneck and Rob neatly came up the inside into the mountain section catching me napping. By now he knew the form and was protecting the inside at the end of the straight so I decided the risk all and went around the outside!!! Onto the grass again – this time on the outside – and I managed to hold it together in the lead. Feeling pleased with myself I then made a turbo-charged mess of the Gooseneck exit and went down the grass again. Really I don’t know what Rob must have thought but he didn’t hesitate before nipping through for the last time. We finished in that order nose to tail.

In a race I should have won my only consolation was fastest lap 1.5 seconds quicker than Rob and more than 3 seconds quick than my practice time. I have to say I could not go any faster and was shattered after the experience. Indeed so awful did I feel with the sinusitis that I aborted the Lotus event. Good choice as it turned out as they red flagged it after 5 laps before Edwin Jowsey won the restarted race in his Brabham BT28.

Thankfully, the Elva came away from the grassy excursions unscathed. However it is not to be recommended as I found the biggest problem was spitting grass out of my mouth after each trip – it really gets inside the full face helmets!!

Next event for us is the Oulton Park Gold Cup with the Surtees and “a” Junior for me and the Crossle 19F for factory owner – and previous owner of the car itself – Arnie Black. Before that the Surtees will appear in the mega F5000 event at the Brands Hatch SuperPrix in the capable hands of Martin Walford. This looks like being the largest ever F5000 race ever held in the UK with almost 30 cars entered – why did I book my holidays at the same time?

 

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