CADWELL PARK, 22 APRIL 2007

MORE FUN IN THE COUNTRY – AND A SORE BUM FOR MY PAINS!

I could race all year at Cadwell Park. It’s a wonderful circuit with all the requirements – lots of twists and turns and plunging elevation changes (the most extreme in the UK). Furthermore it is only and hour from my house – almost perfect really. Of course it is a mite dangerous and extremely narrow at some points. It is the only circuit I know with a corner called Barn where the doors of the said building used to be left open (back and front of course) because cars would occasionally miss the turn and shoot through the farmers pride and joy!

One week after the Donington HSCC season opener, we all turned up to Lincolnshire’s finest minus the Derek Bell runners – the circuit isn’t licensed for single seaters over 2 litres. Once again the entry list was packed with full grids all round and for us the Lotus 20B was making its first appearance for 2007 alongside the Crossle. Before you ask they were both now equipped with new seat belts that are valid until 2012!

Dry weather was the order of the day and the Lotus was first up in an entry list of 26 cars (and seven reserves!). Now the Lotus only has a 1000cc engine and is therefore a touch down on power compared to the front-runner with full-blown Richardson power plants. At least that is my excuse for being 9th on the grid! The car was running well although for some reason I was starting to get a burning feeling over my left hip at the end of the session. Strange and unexplained really.

Up nest was the Crossle fresh from its fun and games last week. The usual front-runners were joined this time by Frank Lyons and his very pretty Merlyn F2 car to make up the gang of four that hotly contested this race last year. Sadly this was not to be repeated as Frank’s engine let go after only three very rapid laps leaving the field headed by the usual trio – Watts, Gray and Monson.

A special mention must be made at this stage of Michael Lyons. Son of Frank and Judy, 16-year-old Michael made his race debut at Phillip Island in Australia earlier this year driving a famous ex-Jackie Stewart BRM F3 car. Since then he has started his UK career with a beautifully prepared Merlyn FF car, which he races in the Formula Ford and Classic Racing Cars events. Two races per meeting will soon tech him plenty as well as giving his the necessary signatures for his license. I have watched Michael grow taller over the last few years and have high hopes for him (as long as he doesn’t get any bigger). He is already showing a rapid turn of speed in the highly competitive FF races where I am sure he will learn lots of race craft. One small point – he is a fine young man with just the right amount of 16 year old arrogance and a credit to Frank and Judy. Well you heard it here first – watch out for this young man in the future.

So now for the races. Well the Junior race was as follows – started 9th and finished 9th! In between these points was quite a lot of action between the orange Lotus and another orange machine – the rapid Terrier of veteran racer Derek Walker. Basically Derek got past after two laps and I spent the next 10 trying to return the compliment. I am proud to say that I timed it perfectly on the last lap although I didn’t realize it at the time! I managed a run at him down the back straight and lunged down the inside at the sharp right-hander. Both of us decided not to hit each other – isn’t that the way to go racing after all – and I just managed to hold him off around Gooseneck and the mountain. Any ill feelings? Not at all because Derek is a fine man and will surely get me back before long. The race was won by young Andrew Hibberd who I used to be able to beat quite easily!! By the way, the burning feeling returned and seemed just like a petrol leak. Having leapt out of the car at the end I could see or small nothing but I have been left with a red mark on my side. Strange but very painful!!

After a short breather we were off again with the Crossle but not before the starter motor packed in again. That’s twice now and it is getting a touch irritating I must admit. A push start in the assembly area was all it took and off we went.

I am sorry to say that the race followed a worrying pattern, which is getting frankly boring. At the light off went Mathew Watts, never to be seen again. Basically he can drive that car something like 5 seconds a lap quicker than anyone else – with a twin cam in the back!! Personally I cannot work it out apart from the fact that he is a cracking driver. So that left Ian Gray and myself to squabble over second. Except that wasn’t quite how it worked out because I soon found myself with a real problem. Neil Bowman in his Macon was sitting on my tail and looking very racy indeed. I must admit that I spent the next ten laps or so fending off his advances until he suddenly disappeared from my mirrors – I wasn’t sad to be truthful. By then Ian Gray had gone and we finished in the same order as last week.

I have some video footage of the track from the Crossle and will try and post it on the site soon while we try and sort out the starter motor yet again. Next event for the team is the Masters Event at Donington for my first run in anger in a proper F1 car. It has to be fun don’t you think?

 

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