CADWELL PARK, 23 APRIL 2006

BARN DANCING IN THE SPRING SHOWERS

Cadwell Park really should not still exist as a race circuit because it is way too much fun and therefore breaks many rules. In the twisty section after the Mountain there is a corner called “Barn” because there used to be a barn there – obviously! Anyone approaching this tight right hander too quickly had to deal with the possibility of heading straight for the front doors of the barn. In more sensibly times than ours the solution to this problem was obvious – open the doors of the barn!! One of the faithful mechanics running cars at the HSCC’s annual visit to Lincolnshire’s pretty circuit remembered from years ago his errant driver using both the front and back doors of the barn in a Lotus Elan 26R with no harm done all round.

Ecurie Scalpel had two cars out for this event. The Crossle was back again for a second run on treads in the continuing effort to make it handle better. The Lotus 20B was due to make its season debut but was withdrawn unexpectedly when the engine did not behave earlier in the week. We think the oil pump might be the problem and a trip to Denis and Jeremy Welch is in order to answer the question. Off the subs bench therefore came the ever faithful Elva for its first race for a while.

The first problem immediately encountered was a very efficient looking young man armed with a noise detector. Despite having raced with the Elva six times in the past the car failed – 117dB against a limit of 108dB. Also failing was the similar Elva of Mark Clubb – his car putting out a louder 121dB. So neither of us were allowed out for qualifying!! Three cheers for Grahame White of the HSCC who brokered a deal whereby we made an effort to reduce the noise and we would be allowed three laps later on followed by a race start from the back of the grid.

Many thanks to Stuart Tizzard and Dave Methley who lent me a strange device that looked a little like a marital aid. It went onto the tail pipe and pride was salvaged all round.

Wonderful though the circuit might be it is not the best place to be when cold and wet which is was at the start of the race day. The twisty section after the Mountain never really dries out under the overhanging trees and this time is was especially evil all day long. When we went out in the Crossle the track was damp all round and very slippy indeed. The car works well under braking and when loaded up in the corners. However it remains worryingly darty under power in a straight line. There is definitely still something amiss and we are now going to change a front tyre that is strangely convex in profile – worth a try I suppose.

The Elva was sent out in the Jaguar XK session with it raining properly – the Elva is not the car for those conditions but four laps were safely negotiated which is more than could be said for Mark Clubb who smacked his Elva sideways into the tyre bank at the end of the back straight – pride and fibreglass both slight damaged as a result. Even though the conditions for official practice were much better Simon Hadfield was only second on the grid in David Clark’s ex-Chris Amon Elva Mk8 behind pole man Jamie Boot in his V8 TVR – surely that would not be the end of the story!!

Over lunch it rained more and then stopped but the track was good and wet when the Classic Sports cars went to the line with the two blue Elvas at the back of the grid. Cadwell park is very narrow indeed and when the lights went out I had no where to go so had to follow Mark as he nipped up the inside. As it turned out this was a good idea as I simply sat on his tail and followed him as he battled through the traffic. The track was drying by now and Mark had led us through to some free space so I thought pressure was the best bet and really stuck up close as we swept through Coppice up the hill. Sure enough he went in too fast as we turned right and under steered off onto the grass. Off we went but I could see him taking up the chase only to fall off again coming down from the Gooseneck section. The final result was sixth place overall and second in class to Simon Hadfield who romped away to an easy win. Second fastest race lap time was quite pleasing overall.

Hot and sweaty I leapt out of the Elva and straight into the Crossle. We had disconnected the rear roll bars again but it was now dry!! Too late to change so off we went into a frenetic three car battle that started when the lights went out. After adjusting his underwear for a lap or so Matthew Watts cleared off and won the race easily in his immaculate Brabham leaving Frank Lyons (Merlyn) and Ian Gray (ex-John Watson Brabham BT30) to battle with the darting Crossle. Frank led the way mostly with Ian Gray in the middle. A few side by side attempts and lock brakes were suffered by all but no damage was done. Finally I got by Ian and was working on Frank before I missed a gear (dumb) and let Ian by again. Then I finally ran out of talent and spun coming out of the left hander dropping down from Gooseneck (dumber). With nothing damaged I set off again and finished a very tired fourth place – Ian Gray finally got the better of Frank Lyons for second place. Overall though a great race and it is clear that the car is making progress. I don’t think it will be too long before I will actually beat these two guys!!

Next meeting is the SuperPrix at Brands Hatch. It is my first time there and the first race for the Chevron B28 – I cant wait.

 

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