The CSCC Special Saloons + Modsports series
Where to start ? Well first a huge well done for all who made the Brands Hatch weekend a success in record August Bank Holiday temperatures. It was about 31 degrees in the shade and goodness knows what in the sunlight. Hot indeed for we spectators but credit to the drivers and the marshalls in their gear who endured the scorching heat to make the weekend such an entertaining spectacle . The heat certainly had a negative effect on the machinery and given that extra challenge CSCC race orgainiser David Smitheram praised the drivers at prize giving for their skill in getting race 3 finished with no retirements.
Brands Hatch came into its own as the country`s top spectator circuit ,not just the views of the track its known for but having that characteristic of the trees for shelter. On a baking hot day the relaxed viewing up at Druids with a cool drink from the bar ,on the grass and under the trees for great motor racing is hard to beat as UK circuits go.
There were 3 cars hoping to make their series debut at Brands. Wayne Crabtree had tested the newly-crafted Ford RS200 for the new owner but it was decided to delay its debut until Thruxton. The group B car with aero should be a front runner. John Plant brought his new creation out for what was really a shake down in the hands of his grandson James. The spaceframed Chevy V8 creature clothed in a slightly extended but otherwise genuine 1960 Austin-Healey 3000 bodyshell imported from Florida. Keeping the US plate and chromework was a cool touch. The car sounded wonderful during sunday afternoon qualifying to set 14th. However the oil temperature went sky high and John withdrew the car as a precaution intending to fit a second oil cooler for Thruxton. The third new entry was Ben Gough in the Reliant Scimitar SS1 turbo with its repair ok from its Donington Park off 2 weeks earlier in a BARC race. The little blue wedge setting 17th.
At the sharp end pre-race favourite Andy Southcott ( Midget ) was having trouble with a misfire and posted only 4th best time, the car fully recoverd from it`s own Donington off . Pole went to Paul Sibley in the Elan by a big 1.6 seconds in a time of 50.38. 2nd was the newly relivered Peugeot 309 of the Morris brothers. 4th was the suprise package of the returning BMW V8 turbo of Clive Anderson. This beautifully turned out machine had missed all of 2018 but having shed some weight and had some tweeks was really motoring. Class A for the afforementioned Peugeot ,Reliant ,BMW and Healey was completed by the return of Craig Percy in the V8 Moggy Minor. His was another with over-heating issues having tested on friday and removed the headlamps in an attempt to aid cooling. Craig set 15th but would miss the first 2 races on the monday. Completing the class and the third 6-litre V8 was the mighty ex-Sanger Ford Falcon of Andy Wilson fresh from winning at Donington the day before in his Aussie Falcon to claim 9th.
Class B was again graced by the one-and-only 'Baby Bertha' Firenza which made it's debut at the same track back in May 1975 with Gerry Marshall. Current owner Joe Ward saying this would probably be the only race of the year for the old girl ,so we were lucky to have her on the grid. Joe setting 7th , just off the class pole of Southcott. Ian Wilson in the TVR that went so well at Oulton was 11th ,Peter Samuels ( MGB GT V8 ) was 13th and Paul Freemantle in not only his series debut but first ever race was 19th in the lovely Zakspeed-replica Escort mark 2 he now shares with brother Mark.
Class C had Sibley on outright pole with regular rival Thomas Carey ( Honda CRX ) 5th and a second series outing for the venerable Transpeed Firenza of Tony Davies in 6th. This car and driver had won here back the Wendy Wools days in the '80s and had its gearbox hiccup cured from Oulton. Martin Reynolds was a last minute entrant having also raced the day before in his Escort at Donington and was also racing his lovely Mach 1 in the Future Classics race , setting 16th .
Class D was again the inseperable pairing of Neil Duke ( Anglia ) and Tim Cairns ( Midget ) in 10th and 12th repectively. They were joined by the lovely Ginetta G4 of Matt Digby in his father`s multiple class winning Modsport car from the 1980s setting class pole in 8th. Jeremy Bourgoyne was back again in 'TAD' his reliable Escort in 18th.
It was good to see some of the absent drivers off the entry still in attendance such as Steve Minton , Tony Paxman ( both refettling their Escorts ) plus Crabtree and even David Enderby was an interested observer . May we see his return in the near future ?
So the grid was decided and the cars were put to sleep for sunday night ready for a full day in the heat on the Bank Holiday monday.
Race 1 in a nutshell...Clive Anderson ( BMW ) has hit the front not to be caught. Behind is pre-race favourite Andy Southcott ( Midget ) moving over to be lapped having a terminal misfire problem. Behind Ricky Parker-Morris ( Peugeot ) is ahead of pole man Paul Sibley ( Elan ). The red car would take 2nd back by the end. In the background Thomas Carey ( Honda ) and Tony Davies ( Firenza ) complete the early top 5.
It was already warm when the cars hit the track at 9-40 for race 1. Immediatly Andy Southcott was in trouble in the Midget with a misfire so the favourite was out. Ricky Parker-Morris led the first 2 laps in the Peugeot before to perhaps some suprise the yellow BMW of Clive Anderson got ahead and soon looked comfortable extending his lead. Pole man Paul Sibley recovered from 3rd to take the Peugeot for 2nd on lap 7 and thats how the top 3 finished. Sibley taking class C and set fastest lap. Anderson`s pace though unrelented and unchallenged winning by a margin of 27 seconds. His first series win and marked the arrival of a serious series challenger.
Behind, the other class C cars had held 4th and 5th but both Carey and Davies fell back. Davies later joked at presentation he should get the 'error of the meeting' award for his unnecessary 2 minute 40 pit stop when he mistook oil on his tires for his own and ened up finishing last.
Meanwhile Joe Ward in Baby Bertha was 9th at the end of the first lap and then steadily worked the old girl up to 4th at the flag to win class B. Carey took 5th ,Andy Wilson 6th and Ian Wilson 7th were the other cars on the lead lap.
A lap down in class D Neil Duke and Tim Cairns had a new challenger as Matt Digby`s nimble Ginetta split them. The Anglia taking the class in 8th.
Race 2 dramas included this great 'save' by Joe Ward whilst leading in the irreplacable 'Baby Bertha'. Having just taken the lead into Paddock Hill Joe found he had lost the brakes and the car snapped sideways and rotated round. Thankfully there was no damage and he continued at a much reduced pace.
What a race this was...entertaining yes ,maybe a bit too entertaining for some of the drivers. The midday sun was now up to about 30 degrees and we had few absentees. Thomas Carey ,Matt Digby and Peter Samuels whose cars were still being worked on.
Danny Morris lead the field into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time after blasting passed pole man Paul Sibley. The Elan was well off the pace with fuel starvation and was alreay down to 8th at Graham Hill bend. Andy Wilson ( Falcon ) and Joe Ward
( Baby Bertha ) in the heavy metal were 2nd + 3rd . Race 1 winner Clive Anderson had started 11th due to his winner's penalty and was already charging though to 5th but on the Cooper straight lost it ,went off ,rotating and facing the wrong way down to last. By the end of lap 1 Morris lead from Baby Bertha with the Falcon and Ian Wilson ( TVR ) right behind.
Lap 2`s drama was at Clearways as both Wilsons ( unrelated ) went off in a cloud of sand. First thoughts were they had collided but having spoken to both afterwards it`s clear that the Falcon`s right rear tyre had blown and disintegrated throwing him round and the TVR had gone off inavoidence and nudged the tire barrier. The race was red flagged and the field slowed to a halt on the grid whilst the trucks went out to retreve the 2 cars. Andy`s Falcon had no tire left and Ian`s TVR on inspection had some suspension damage. Thankfully both cars looked pretty ok considering but both drivers decided to withdraw from race 3 as precautionary which was a shame but understandable.
The grid was re-jigged somewhat as the first 2 laps were scrubbed and a new 10-minute race announced based on the original grid starting positions. This was good news for Anderson after his spin but Southcott who had inherited 3rd after the offs had to go back to end of the grid. Poor Sibley was struggling and couldn't take back his pole position so remained at the back also.
The order at the second start was Morris ,Ward ,Duke ,Anderson ,Reynolds ,Burgoyne ,Freemantle ,Davies ,Gough ,Southcott ,Cairns + Sibley. We lost Gough in the Scimitar pulling off on the hill with a smoking car as the field charged away again. Anderson was soon up to 3rd and Southcott overtook 2 cars on the outside into druids before nipping inside and taking Reynolds at Graham Hill going 4th at end of lap 1. Morris was under real pressure as Ward had 'Baby Bertha' really wound up and starting lap 4 the famous car was alongside and passed the Peugeot going into Paddock Hill bend to lead. A lovely moment in Gerry Marshall-style only for fate to intervene. Under the bridge at Druids Joe lost his brakes and the car snapped to the right spinning him round to a halt. Morris and Anderson slowed on the outside but Southcott slipped passed the stricken Firenza on the inside of the bend to come out in the lead . It was a heart-in-mouth moment for those watching and relief Baby Bertha wasnt damged. Joe got her back going but at much reduced speed ,saying his brakes were on and off .Having pitted for a quick inspection he would cruise round to finish 10th and reluctantly withdrew from race 3 as a precaution.
By lap 5 Southcott , with his Midget now fixed and normal sevice restored was en route for another win ,easing out a lead by each remaining lap and set fastest race lap with a 51.58. Anderson kept him in sight having passed Morris to win class A. Tony Davies made amends for race 1 with a steady run in the other Firenza for 4th and class C.
Tim Cairns in the other Midget this time took 5th and class D just over a second ahead of Duke as again these two seem to race with an invisible tow rope connecting them at each round. Reynolds , Burgoyne ,Freemantle followed with Ward and Sibley cruising round to complete the 11 finishers. One of the most dramatic races we`ve had yet and well it could have ended alot worse but some good reactions from the drivers when things started to go wrong.
Race 3 - Percy-verance pays off as the three Race 2 non-starters were able to start Race 3 after fixing their cars . Here Craig Percy with his headlight-less Morris Minor V8 heads the little Ginetta G4 of Matt Digby , 2 cars originally built back in the 60s. Thomas Carey was the 3rd to return.
By 4-20 the crowds were beginning to dwindle as the scorching heat continued to keep those trackside finding shade where possible. The 3 non-starters for race 2 made a welcome return after fixing their various issues so Thomas Carey ( Honda ) ,Matt Digby ( Ginetta ) and Craig Percy ( Moggy Minor V8 ) joined the back of the grid for Race 3 to keep up the numbers . Ben Gough ( Scimitar ) was also repaired after his smokey demise in Race 2. Sadly Paul Sibley`s attempts to cure the Elan came to nothing as she refused to fire up or to be push started in the collection area.
Clive Anderson was on pole and indeed lead lap 1 from Ricky Parker-Morris. Race 2 winner Andy Southcott ,starting in 11th was already 3rd by lap 2 and it was inevitable in this form he was going to catch and pass the 2 ahead of him. Anderson had enough to hold 2nd and made it a hat-trick of class A wins on a very succesful day for the Prism Motorsport Team.
By lap 3 the cars were practically in their finishing order once Thomas Carey had passed Neil Duke coming from the back . Tony Davies ( Firenza ) was again in his 4th slot to take class C and had enough to hold off the challenge for class by Carey. Duke in the ever reliable Anglia got 6th and class D revenge over Cairns by just 0.6 seconds in their almost obligitory close dice ,do they do this deliberately for entertainment I wonder ? It`s certainly representative of the trust and respect all the series drivers have in each other. Digby took 3rd in class followed by Percy ,Reynolds ,Gough ,Burgoyne and Freemantle and yes no dramas and no retirements.
Ricky Parker-Morris summed up "Great meeting, great effort from all teams in excessive heat.We were suffering with heat in engine and tyres on the tarmac."
Next round is Thruxton on September 21st when the CSCC boys are joined for the series races by the Bernie`s Sports GT cars for a bumper grid !
For the record Andy Southcott`s brace of wins takes him level now with Ian Hall on 14 series wins apiece as the most 'winningest' drivers . This sets us nicely for Thruxton where it`s expected Ian will return to play his part as the 'Goliath' in the mighty Darrian and the 'David' of Southcott`s nimble MG Midget.