The CSCC Special Saloons + Modsports series
The CSCC season kicked off at Thruxton on July 25th and 26th 2020 after the first half of the season was effected by the Covid virus lockdown. The Special Saloons + Modsport series raced on the sunday, their 5th year running at the UKs fastest circuit. Like last year the 'Specials' were joined on the grid by our friends from Bernie`s V8 series to add even more variety and sounds.
The event was behind closed doors with Covid safety guidlines and procedues in place.
Competitors Class: CA
11 - Clive Anderson - BMW E30 (T) 5100cc
16 - Craig Percy - Morris Minor 6277cc
23 - James Plant - Austin Healey 106 6600cc
88 - Mike Scott / Chris Scott - Vauxhall Cavalier Spaceframe (T) 2300
100 - John Cockerton - Porsche 935 (T) 3300cc
309 - Ricky Parker-Morris / Danny Morris - Peugeot 309 GTi (T) 2000
Competitors Class: CB
17 - Ian Hall / Jim Steward - Darrian Wildcat T98 GTR 5995cc
26 - Alan Breck - Ford Capri 5000cc
69 - Mike Chittenden / John Devereaux - BMW M3 2990cc
175 - Andy Southcott - MG Midget Spaceframe 2300cc
Competitors Class: CC
34 - Kevin Cooper / Alan Cooper - Nike Imp 2000cc
65 - Steve Fray - Ford Mondeo Spaceframe 1998cc
Competitors Class: CD
21 - Pete Crudgington / James Crudgington - Mini Jem MkI 1380cc
27 - Martin Reynolds - Ford Escort Mk1 2000cc
57 - Tony Paxman - Ford Escort Mk1 2000cc
66- Neil Duke - Ford Anglia 105E 2000cc
90 - Alex Smith / John Faux - MG Midget 1476cc
Competitors Class: BerniesV8
22 - Marcus Bicknell - Ford Mustang ASCAR Mk3 6.2
46 - Stuart Entwistle - Chevrolet Monte Carlo
48 - Matt Snowball - Plymouth Cuda 6685cc
84 - Peter Samuels - MG B GT V8 5.2
95 - Lee Maddox - Pontiac Grand Prix
ENTRY and PRACTICE :
The cars roared out just before 9 on the sunday morning, thankfully the track was dry and fully recovered from all the rain that had effected the races the day before.
Understandably with the restrictions on family members allowed and the difficult last few months there were some notable absentees. Tim Cairns, David Beatty, Paul Sibley, Thomas Carey etc. Entries numbered 18 CSCC cars plus 5 from our friends from Bernie`s V8s joining in for a second year.
Andy Southcott was in his faithful 2.3-engined Midget again, the sister car with newly fitted Millington being saved. In fact the opening round had no cars taking advantage of the new series rule allowing post-93 engines. Southcott put the marker down for the day with a shattering 1m 20.576 some 4 seconds quicker than the 2nd place Peugeot of the Morris brothers. Marcus Bicknell was 3rd in one of the ASCAR monsters from Bernies class and the lovely BMW V8 Turbo from Prism Motorsport 4th. The latter driven by Clive Anderson quietly optimistic after rebuilding the engine over the break.
The usual 'David v Goliath' duel we`ve seen so often at Thruxton was in danger in that the 'Goliath' Darrian T98 V8 of Ian Hall was in the pits already after just a few laps and 23 seconds down. Hall and co-driver Jim Steward had only finished the car the day before and Hall was finding 5th gear was jumping out into neutral at top speed. For saftey reasons Hall reluctantly withdrew the car and the pair decided to switch to the more modest TR8 of Steward for the races.
Behind the Peugeot and BMW in class A were James Plant in the home-built Healey in 6th, John Cockerton's Porsche 935 in 15th and Craig Percy`s Moggy Minor V8 16th.
The only other cars in class B after Southcott and Hall was a legendary name from special saloons of 50-odd summers ago in the form of Mike Chittenden, running a smart black BMW Coupe these days. Chiti has been racing since 1966 and gained his reputation for being very rapid at Brands Hatch in particular with cars like his old blue Morris Minor 1650 and Anglia. The other car in B ( 2101 to 6000cc ) is the lovely Jagermeister-livered Capri V8 of Alan Breck. This was of all the great sounding cars on track my personal pick. Breck lost his clutch in practice which blighted his race 1 but in the true series spirit got it fixed and finished race 2.
Other cars were also soon pitting with issues, the 2 spaceframe saloons were in for a frustrating afternoon for Steve Fray ( Mondeo ) and the Scott family ( Cavalier turbo ).
Malcolm Harding in the Zakspeed Escort mk.2 replica set 7th to head class C ( 1501-2100cc ) from the Nike Imp of Kevin and Alan Cooper in 16th.
Class D was led by Tony Paxman ( Escort ) in 5th, Martin Reynolds ( Escort ) 8th and Neil Duke ( Anglia ) 9th, this trio all drop a class due to having metal-bodied cars and run against any 1500cc cars, these being the Midget of Smith/Faux and the Crudgington Mini Jem on its series debut.
The Bernies quintet headed by Bicknell had 2 more ASCARs in Lee Maddox 11th and Stewart Entwistle who was well off the pace. Matt Snowball in the wonderful Gurney Trans Am 'Cuda replica was a fine 12th and Peter Samuels MGB V8 was 18th.
In all ten cars were running V8s so every kind of rumble and growl were audiable.
Before the drivers set off out for race 1 they gathered for a minutes silence in respect of Pete Stevens, the multi-Thundersaloon champion. The much loved driver from Birmingham had also raced 31 times in the series ( 2011-14 ) and there had been talk of a comeback but very sadly Pete lost his life to the Covid virus.
Andy Southcott immediatly set the race pace and pulled out a lead over Danny Morris ( Peugeot ) and Clive Anderson ( BMW ). The two 500-bhp turbo saloons just didnt quite have enough to catch the nimble Midget, though Morris did get passed into the chicane ahead on one lap and the 2 cars were neck and neck until Morris put a wheel on the grass passing the flag and Southcott nipped back ahead. By the end Southcott had eased into a 10-second to win yet another race. The Peugeot was 2nd and the BMW eased off towards the end to settle for 3rd.
Clive Anderson reflected afterwards 'The only thing about the race for me was tyre wear. Found the car 4 wheel drifting on the really fast bends but it seemed like Danny had the same problem. I would say Danny got on the power a lot earlier than me out of the chicane onto pit straight but I felt I could brake and turn in later. So it was a bit of ding dong race keeping the gap quite even. Good race' .
Behind the front 3 was race long battle between Plant ( Healey ) and Bicknell ( ASCAR Mustang ) , 2 very different cars but very evenly matched. Plant got passed by lap 7 and just took 4th. Behind was a cluster of saloons initially lead by Malcolm Harding then Mike Chittenden with Paxman, Duke and Percy all chasing close behind to complete the top 10. Reynolds, Maddox, Samuels, Snowball, Cockerton, Crudgington and Entwistle rounded off the finishers plus Breck who lost several laps in the pits was not classified. Seward in the TR8 had what looked like a gearbox explode exiting the chicane thus denying co-driver Ian Hall a race. The Imp , Midget and both spaceframe saloons all retired.
For race 2 Southcott took the usual 'winners penalty' from race 1 and lined up 11th on the grid. Ricky Parker-Morris lead the field round to the start in the Peugeot with the Anderson BMW alongside. The anticpated battle between the 2 turbo saloons would be sadly shortlived though. Coming into the complex for the first time the BMW spun round and became beached and unable to continue. This was a real shame as it denied the race one its interesting duels. Parker-Morris lead the Healey of Plant round at the end of lap 1 with Southcott already slicing through the top 10 starters.
At the complex for the second time with the BMW still stranded Marcus Pye in the commentary box there reported in Autosport later that Soutcott was lucky not to have been penalised for taking the lead under waved yellows. Nothing was made of it and Southcott was clear to build his lead to an almost inevitable win. That shouldn't detrac from another otherwise faultless performance from the Southampton-based driver in the Mike Johnston-built Midget GT, some 3 and half seconds lap faster round than than the nearest other car.
The Peugeot had a steady run in 2nd to the flag but as the pace dropped by the end the fierce battle for 3rd/4th was closing in. The Plant Healey and Bicknell ASCAR Mustang had been dicing all race long and coming into Allard for the penultimate time the 2 cars banged into each other and the smaller car came off worse. The Healey spun off into the inside barriers and the rear-left corner of the car took the hit. The Mustang also spun but was able to continue round but unsure about any suspension damage Bicknell pitted instead of taking the flag for the in-lap thus becoming a DNF. This did spoil the feel of the race somewhat as incidents of damged cars in the series are thankfully fairly rare. Parker-Morris taking class B.
So it was Malcolm Harding in the Zakspeed Escort replica that inherited 3rd ( and won class C ) after holding off the Chittenden BMW all race long in another of the intriguing duels. Then came the train of Paxman (winning D ), Percy and Duke. Cockerton held off Reynolds for 8th as the best of the lapped runners. Then the improving Scott Cavalier ahead of the best 2 sounding cars neck and neck in the Plymouth Cuda and Capri V8.
Prior to race 1 the Special Saloon drivers took the opportunity to have a minutes silence out of respect for Pete Stevens who very sadly was a victim of the Corona virus and passed away towards the end of April. The news had shocked the special saloons fraternity and some of the drivers present who knew Pete from the Thundersaloons days were visibly moved by the tribute.
Pete was a multiple champion in Hot Rods initiatlly, then Thundersaloons, competing in all 11-seasons ( 1985-95 ), Formula Saloons and later Pick-ups. He was in at the start of the CSCC Special Saloons revival in 2011 in his famous Vauxhall Carlton V8 going to race 31 times in the series up to retirement at the end of the 2014 season.
Everyone ive spoken to who knew him all said the same that he was both a superb racing driver and was very much liked by his fellow drivers. A tribute appeared on the Autosport website in early May...