CADWELL PARK, 13 APRIL 2008

CADWELL PARK

HSCC Races at Cadwell Park, April 13 2008

 

Tragedy mars wet and cold day at Cadwell Park

The HSCC has always been loyal to Cadwell Park – the famous “mini-Nurburgring” in Lincolnshire.  The track is a little jewel, nestling in the hills near Louth it uses the natural contours of the land to twist and turn up and down and around some spectacular corners.  Best known by bike racers it is also beloved by the club and historic drivers.

The 2008 meeting was no easy event for many reasons.  First the weather turned nasty as the paddock was pretty much a mud bath before the day started and only got worse as time passed following a torrential hailstorm just after the actual racing started in the afternoon.  However this event will be remembered mostly for the tragic death of Historic Formula Junior racer Barry Westmoreland.  Although details are not too clear at this stage it seems that Barry may have suffered a massive heart attack while driving his Lotus 22 in a very spirited Formula Junior race.  He was alone on the track when he seemed to veer off to the side and hit the barrier just at the Mountain section.  The race was immediately red flagged and in fact the meeting abandoned at that point.

Barry was a thoroughly friendly and quiet man who was a great supporter of Historic Formula Junior where, for the last few years, he had driven his beautifully prepared Lotus 22 with great spirit and skill.  He will be missed by all the HFJRA family – and it is a close knit and family like group.  Our sympathies of course go to all his friends and family.

Of course racing will always carry on as it has done for more than a century.  Cadwell Park has been around for quite a few years and remains very unchanged in 2008.  Ecurie Scalpel had entered three cars for this event – the Crossle 19F, the Huffaker and the Lola Mk1.  Sadly the Crossle did not make it in time.  Stuart Riley, Bob Birrell, Simon Diffey and Arnie Black had done everything possible to repair the damage inflicted on the car at Donington – and it almost worked.  All the parts arrived back from the Crossle factory in Belfast only to discover in the final stages of the rebuild that the replacement front wishbone was for the wrong side!! To say that Stuart was disappointed would be a slight understatement.

And so we were two.  First up was the Lola Mk1 back with its fresh gearbox and various tweaks in the clutches of ace preparer Rick Hall.  We planned to do one twenty-minute race each and therefore our practice time was pretty limited – four laps each.  Rick managed 1:53.296 and I responded with a 1:53.300.  The gearbox is now sorted and finally we have the car we wanted.  It is beautifully light and predictable and the engine is very strong.  Rick reckoned it would do a 1:49 with a little work on driver comforts.

Race wise I set off first and went out on a drying and steaming track that was still pretty treacherous around the Mountain under the trees.  I got badly boxed in at the start and found myself stuck behind to giant E-Type Jags.  Fast down the straights they were hopeless elsewhere but their private battle was always two abreast leaving me nowhere to go.  Eventually I threw caution to the wind and tried around the outside at Park following the long back straight.  It was fairly hairy but worked out OK – at least for the first of the monsters.  One lap later I got by the second one in exactly the same way and immediately left them behind reducing my lap times by several seconds to finish fifth overall and second in class.  Happy enough with the day, Rick has retained the car for a little minor tweaking and the next chance to try it out.

The Huffaker was making what we hoped was a long awaited return to form after almost two years engine problems.  The story of the day can be summarised by saying that Nick Swift has done a good job and the old girl was quick.  Quick enough to be just behind Derek Walkers Ford-engined Terrier on the grid – and that is exactly where we finished in the race itself.  The car is now with Frank Lyons and will be readied for Monaco.

The race was incident packed apart from the sad and tragic end.  It started off with Chris Drake and Simon Diffey tangling at Barn, which sent Diff barrel rolling into the earth bank where I saw him hanging upside down in the mud.  The gold car is very second hand but thankfully Diff is OK – a badly bruised shoulder, a large amount of mud and a damaged bank account could have been a lot worse.  That’s twice in two events for the small one so Sarah is going to have to keep a close eye on him.  Several other cars spun off onto the undergrowth before series newcomer Ben Simms beat off the attentions of James Claridge and veteran Denis Welch for the win.  That trio travelled three abreast for most of the race and only just survived intact.

All these incidents of course pale into insignificance when we remember the loss of Barry.  He certainly died doing something he loved, but somehow that seems little consolation at the time.

 

 

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