OULTON PARK, 26 AUGUST 2007

FLY ME TO THE MOON

Fly me to the Moon – Or at least to the trees!

 

Oulton Park Gold Cup

 

HSCC, 25-27 August 2007

 

The HSCC have for the last few years put on a wonderful meeting over the August Bank Holiday weekend.  All sorts of categories are included and usually with a few “special guests” such as the Master Series folks.  This year was no different and the BRDC sports cars were supplemented by the Euro F2 circus, which incidentally is now run by the HSCC after the collapse of the previous organisation.

For the Scalpel cars the plan was simple.  We would use the meeting as a major test for the newly completed Lola Mk1 before the Goodwood Revival next week.  In addition we would run in both the Euro F2 and the Derek Bell Trophy using the recently acquired Brabham BT35 we ran at Pau.  For the rest of the Lyons family there was a full programme with Frank and Judy in the Derek Bell races and Michael running in FF, Classic Racing Cars (both in his Merlyn) and Formula Junior.  For this last event he was using the Brabham BT6 of Colonel Bob Birrell who kindly made the generous offer after my Lotus 20B was still injured after the Porto crash.

Of course that was the plan!  The first thing to go wrong was the Lola.  Well it didn’t exactly go wrong because it simply wasn’t ready.  The Climax engine only came off the dyno at Hall and Hall at Bourne on Friday night.  Obviously we pulled the car out and Don and Stuart will work over the weekend aiming for Goodwood.

For this event the first part of Saturday is designated as testing – sessions allocated for open wheeled and closed wheel cars.  I had one session booked for the Brabham and a new camera system to record the events.  How should I sum it up?  A waste of time mainly because of all the red flags!!  Testing is testing and not a final qualifying session is all I will say!

So into qualifying for the Euro F2 and DBT.  Because Frank Lyons and I were doing a race each in the Euro F2 we both had to qualify.  Off I went first and immediately entered a scene of shattered and smashed cars.  Now I am sure these Euro F2 guys do this all the time and are all very good and all that but I am sorry – I just don’t get it!  What is the point in trying to break the lap record on the out lap or lap after that?  Suffice to say the session was red flagged twice as follows.  First Andy Meyrick tangled with Mathew Watts at Island bend in a nasty incident.  Who knows exactly what happened and why but it is alleged that Mathew was hit from behind and spun around with a broken front corner as the cars arrived at the Shell hairpin.  Meyrick for his part cartwheeled over the top of the stricken Brabham (end over end) before leaping over the barrier and hitting the trees beyond!  Andy stepped out unscathed and very lucky but scratch one March 782.

 A yellow March 762 driven by Gunnar Turebrand from Sweden was completely trashed as he hit the wall/tyre barrier exiting lodge.  The tub was badly bent and he went off to hospital for attention to a bad leg and bad wrist.  Thankfully he was discharged with no fractures and advice that the first lap is not the ideal time to set the fastest lap.

Not to be outdone by son Andy, his father Peter then smashed the second family March 782 into the bank exiting the first Chicane.  The family luck held and Peter was fine but the car badly written off.  Now (allegedly) the final insult came later on and is worth recounting here.

Andy’s car was stuck in the trees and needed a crane and truck to extract it after the day’s activities were done.  Off went the family truck travelling down the back straight to pick up the stricken March.  Sadly, the truck was higher than the bridge and down came the advertising hoarding and the truck also had a headache.  Oh and yes – it seems fines were imposed for swearing at the marshals!!  What a weekend eh!  I am guessing at least £60K before the fines?

So on to the Sunday races then and first up was the race for the survivors of the Euro F2 gang.  These races are standing starts and this one was relatively incident free for once.  The race basically settled down into a reasonably vigorous battle with a red March 712.  He got the jump on me at the start but I soon realized that I was faster overall.  Trouble was he didn’t agree for several laps.  I managed to hound him all the way from Shell hairpin until Knickerbrook where I am pleased to say he went straight on.  After that it was a straight run to what turned out to be fourth overall when the runaway leader Martin Stretton had a wheel come loose two laps from the end.  Bob Juggins and his Lola won the race but we won our class and the 1600cc category having got the lap time down to 1:48.5.

After a brief breather the cars assembled for the Derek Bell Trophy and I was planning on another class win and lowering the lap time.  However, fate intervened as we passed old Hall on the green flag lap.  My foot fell off the clutch pedal, which was odd, and I thought there might be a fluid leak causing the problem.  However by the Shell Hairpin I realized the pedal was falling off and my foot was fine.  So I stuck it in fifth gear and toured round to the garage.  A quick inspection revealed the little circlip holding the bottom bush in place had fallen out.  The classic 50p failure.

For the record the race was won by Mark Dwyer in his Lola T400 when early leader Frank Lyons tripped up over the chicane and tore his nose cone clean off.  Saddled with no down force and massive understeer he managed to hang on for a very creditable fourth plane.  Oh yes, and Neil Glover drove his Lola T332 over the nose for good measure!!

Anyway, all that fun and games left Monday for Frank because yours truly was back at base doctoring a bit.  The Euro F2 race was going well for Frank who had the car up to a genuine 6th and the lap time down to the 1:46’s when two laps from the end there was a nasty sounding engine noise.  Having switched off the engine pretty rapidly the subsequent inspection suggests that a ring might be done on No 2.  Not very surprising when one considers we bought the car pretty much sight unseen and had not really touched it since. 

By then the team had patched together the T400 for Frank who went on to rescue a fine 2nd place in the afternoons DBT race behind double race winner Mark Dwyer.

And so the weekend ended with a few trophies for the gang, one nose cone in need of repair and replacing and one engine needing a strip and rebuild.  Sound like average racing stuff to you?  Sadly it does to me.

Onwards to Goodwood and the Revival with the Lola Mk1.  It WILL be ready!!

 

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