The CSCC Special Saloons + Modsports series
After the CSCC`s first ever meeting at Thruxton last summer which was a tremendous success the club repeated the feat with full paddocks and were again blessed with glorious weather to entertain the crowds.
This spring weekend was the opening round for the Special Saloons and Modsport series and whilst not as fully subscribed in entries as some of the other CSCC series it more than made up in variety and sheer character. The 20-odd entries would dwindle over the 3 races as fast Thruxton track took its toll but that didnt stop the SS+M boys from putting on a great show with some fantastic racing ,especially on the sunday.
ENTRY AND QUALIFYING :
Heading the entry in term of fame was the ex-Gerry Marshall Baby Bertha Vauxhall Firenza ,the most famous special ( super ) saloon of all time now in the very capable hands of Joe Ward. The old car had missed the 2016 season but it`s qualifying was cut short when an oil unit came lose causing BB to smoke badly and was brought into the pits. She returned out in qualifying but was too late to set anytime. Joe and his team repaired the offending fault and would start at the back for race 1.
The class A cars for turbos and over 6-litres wernt enjoying Thruxton as much as the other classes. The Morris-brothers Peugeot had blown its diff on its out lap on friday testing continuing the team's rotten run of luck going back to silverstone last year. Steven Moss in the green E Anglia was struggling with turbo issues which would plague him all weekend and qualified down in 6th ahead of class rivals David Beatty in the ex-Rod Birley Honda Prelude and the only big banger in that class the fabulous Morris Minor V8 of Caig Percy.Two more further down than expected were the Mazda RX7 turbo of Tony Ellis and the RSR Escort in 11th and 12th respectively with Terry Nicholls' Toyota Supra in its new livery 13th fastest.
Class B for 2.1 to 6 litre cars had the mighty Darrian T98 of Ian Hall set pole with a record 1 minute 18.889 time. Other than Baby Bertha the only other class B car was Ian Stapleton`s Alfa Romeo setting 3rd fastest. The Midget of Chris Southcott now with 2.4 Vauxhall power was withdrawn before the weekend but should return at Silverstone.
Class C for 1.5 to 2.1 litre cars is the domain of Paul Sibley in the old Rob Cox Lotus Elan and is described by fellow racer Steven Moss as 'still the benchmark for the series'. Sibley was flying from first qualifying lap to the last and also broke the 1minute 20 barrier to go 2nd. Class rival Thomas Carey in the Honda CRX made 5th place and two MGs made for welcome additions ,both dropping down a class due to the steel-bodied rule,Simon Cripps in 10th and Peter Samuels in 15th.
Class D for cars up to 1500cc or steel-bodied 2-litre cars had the biggst speed differentials with Dan Minton setting an impressive 4th overall in the family Escort. Tim Cairns was pushing his little Midget too and set 9th. The rest were taking up the rear with Neil Duke`s newly built Anglia making its debut setting 16th despite losing a door skin followed by Jeremy Bourgoine ,Mark Freemantle and Tony Paxman all in mark 1 Escorts .
Finally making its debut in the `Tester' class was the Vauxhall Cavalier Eurocar of Mike and Chris Scott which set 14th .
RACE ONE ( Saturday ) :
19 cars made the start with Paxman the only non-starter. The 2 fastest men in qualifying soon shot off out front with Hall ahead of Sibley for 4 laps until a leaky oil pipe under the Elan`s hood caused him to spin off and thereafter Hall romped home unchallenged setting a new fastest race lap at 1minute 19.314 in the process.
About the same time we lost both class A men Crabtree and Ellis whilst dicing for 7th when the 2 drifted into each other at Goodwood. The wheels touched and the Mazda of Ellis rode up over the Escorts wing in a scary moment . Both cars were out ,the Mazda breaking a panhard rod and both its alloys completely distorted . Crabtree`s car would be patched up overnight and make race 2 but withdrawn for race 3.
Stapleton was left a comfortable 2nd whilst Carey took class C in Sibleys absence but had Minton in his mirrors throughout which took class D . David Beatty took class A in 5th making 4 class winners in the top 5. Joe Ward stroked Baby Bertha around to finish 10th with no dramas. Steven Moss who had 'gone off grass cutting at 140mph' reflected 'some scary moments' and 'sad to see so many cars loaded on the trailers to go home early'.
RACE TWO ( Sunday morning ) :
The grid had been depleted by 6 overnight with the loss of Ellis ,Nicholls ,Cairns ,the 2 MGBs for various reasons and the rapid Minton Escort was withdrawn for gearbox and brake issues .However this would be the best dice for the lead probably of the whole meeting. Stapleton would start on pole with Hall 11th due to the 'winners penalty' rule. Also at the back was Sibley though he was still finding a spray of oil coming out but not onto his wheels but onto his windscreen this time . Stapleton had a disastrous start and was soon swamped retiring soon after. It took no time at all for the 2 fast red cars at the back to blast into the lead. Lap after lap the 2 were nose to tail at full race pace with Sibley tending to just have enough to get the lead back each time the big Darrian squeezed ahead. After 11 hot laps Sibley held onto win by just 0.145 of a second ! Tremendous entertainment . The Elan's windscreen on the passenger side smeared with its own oil making victory all the more remarkable. In the pursuit Hall lowered his own lap record to a 1minute 18.205 .
Thomas Carey took 3rd again but not under pressure and David Beatty again took class A with another strong run in the other Honda. Craig Percy also had another untroubled run in the mighty Moggy V8 for 5th. In class D without Cairns or Minton it was Neil Duke in his new Anglia taking 6th and holding off Jeremy Burgoyne by 1.5 seconds for the class.
We did lose a few along the way with the Moss Anglia ,Crabtree and Baby Bertha retiring. Joe Ward had been up to 6th when the steering on the front left wheel went on Baby Bertha. Thankfully it was progressive and Joe pulled the old girl over without damage but its weekend was done. Its prescence had been appreciated by many enthusiasts over the weekend and indeed by the club.
RACE THREE ( Sunday afternoon ) : Still a beautiful day and the grid was further depleted to 10 starters though 9 would finish ,with the Crabtree Escort ,Baby Bertha and Neil Duke ( not feeling well enough ) missing. Ian Hall would be pole like race 1 , Sibley less impaired by the 10-place 'winners penalty' due to the smaller grid and Stapleton on the back row. Hall as expected lead the first 2 laps but caught by Sibley and in a great 3-abreast move coming into Campbell Stapleton went down the right into 2nd to demote Hall to 3rd. The big Darrian pulling off with a broken throttle cable and 2 belts off shortly afterwards.
Stapleton and his mechanics had spent the time well since race 2 under the bonnet and declared he`d found his old Alfa again. The stealth black car using its grunt to take the lead on lap 3 and hold off Sibley to the end setting fastest race lap along the way. Carey smoking by the end took 3rd yet again. Moss frustrated by the lack of turbo gained some comfort in taking class A back from Beatty by 2 seconds at the finish. Carey, Beatty ,Percy ,Burgoyne and the Scott Cavalier all finished each race to their credit on a day of higher than liked attrition level. Mark Freemantle took class D in 7th having had another close dice with Burgoyne and the Cavalier throughout in their own mini-race.
'It was a great race' said winner Stapleton 'I really enjoyed it. I`m so glad it all came together. I love the circuit here ,it`s fantastic'.
It had been a tough round but the boys had put on a great show. There is a clear feeling of family throughout the grid and it`s commendable how much the competitors are happy to help their fellow competitor to get their cars fixed between races. With no championship points or prize money at stake it really is a friendly environment and worthy of praise.
Credit also the CSCC for another well organised and very busy event . The following week`s Autosport editorial by Marcus Pye ,who had co-commentated with Dave Goddard on the day, wrote 'By consensus of opinion of the many enthusiasts I spoke to over the weekend the CSCC`s second Thruxton Thriller may have been the clubbie meeting in recent seasons' . High praise indeed.
Results on TSL Timing...