Last Saturday morning I made my way to Castle Combe for the Autumn Classic meeting, regrettably the last but one racing meeting of the season, as you shall see I couldn’t make Sunday’s final Castle Combe meeting due to a commitment elsewhere.
This event marked the first visit by the Vintage Sports Car Club for thirty years. I followed the 1929 Dodge Brothers Senior above in through the gate.
In the paddock Sue Darbyshire was warming up her Morgan Super Sports for morning practice which qualified 6th for the VSCC Pre War Sports Cars race and in which she crossed the finish line of the race in 4th.
Out on the track practice for the Bernie’s V8 Historic V8 Racers Association race was well underway, the series caters for V8 powered cars racing on road legal treaded tyres. I was most pleasantly surprised to find one of less than 600 Maserati Bora’s built among the entries, Graham Burgess is seen above qualifying for 15th on the grid, he finished the race in 11th.
During the lunch break Julian Bronson demonstrated his 1960 Scarab Grand Prix car that was built, maintained and on occasion driven by Chuck Daigh for Woolworth heir Lance Reventlow. This is the third of the three open wheelers built and was raced by Chuck with a regular Offenhauser during 1961 in a couple of non championship Formula One races, with out the ill feted Desmodromic cylinder heads fitted to the first two cars.
After the success of the Spirit of the Sixties event held at Dyrham Park last year the Bristol Motor Club were invited to organise an Essence of Dyrham demonstration at Castle Combe last weekend, Martin Sheppard’s 1958 Stanguellini Formula Junior, was the only open wheeler to take part.
After the lunch break racing got under way in earnest with Chris Woodgate making the most of his pole position in his Aston Martin DB 3 to come home over thirty seconds to the good from Nicholas Ruddell in his #25 Aston Martin DB2/4, Nigel Batchellor seen in second place in the #36 DB 2/4 above dropped out, while Timothy Stamper lost 3rd place for several laps to Anne Reed before claiming back third spot on the podium in his #39 Aston Martin 2/4.
Anthony Reid stamped his authority on the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club Pre 1966 Jaguars race right from the word go, but there was plenty of action going on behind. Above John Burton in the #15 XK 120 carries evidence of cutting a chicane, John managed to hang on to 5th place eventually finishing 10 seconds ahead of Peter Dorlin’s #48 Mark 1 Saloon, after an entertaining battle Peter finished 1 place ahead of his brother Richard, in a Mk 2 Saloon.
The Big Healey Challenge race was interrupted by a pace car incident which virtually handed a one lap lead to forth place starter Anders Schildt from Sweden, but these classics still proved highly entertaining to watch as they grappled with Castle Combes notoriously undulating surface. Above Anders leads eventual third place finisher David Smithie who appeared to be closing Anders down for the lead until the pace car intervened effectively handing Schildt the John Gott Trophy on a plate.
If the Healey’s were struggling with Castle Combes undulations the Bernie’s V8’s fared little better as evidenced when a rear shock absorber failed on the #78 Dodge Challenger of Belgian Bert Smeets. The rare South African #6 Ford Capri Piranha of Andrew Haddon managed to lap the entire field in less than 40 minuets on his way to victory in a race which was also interrupted by a Safety Car period after an incident involving the series organisers Bernie Choodosh’s Chevrolet Corvette.
After lengthy repairs to the Castle Combe crash barrier the 50’s Inter Marque race provided plenty of thrills and spills. Nigel Webb just managed to keep his C-type Jaguar ahead of Nigel Bancrofts indecently quick Lotus Elite which was giving away over two litres / 122 cui in swept volume to the Jaguar. Webb came into hand over to Anthony Reid who regained the lead after the Elite’s mandatory pit stop and headed for his second trip to victory lane of the day. Bancroft who elected to drive solo finished second.
Tom McWhirter driving the unusual 6 wheel #23 Jaguar SS 100 is seen leading the opening lap of the the VSCC Pre War Sports Car race from the #21 HRG Andrew Mitchell and #29 Patrick Blakeney-Edwards Frazer Nash Owlette. Tom won the race by nearly 3 seconds from Andrew who in turn finished just over 16 and a half seconds ahead of Patrick.
The Twilight Challenge featured just seven starters but there were still battles aplenty thanks to the mandatory pit stop requirement. Tim Pearce claimed the victory in his Morgan Plus 8, the #73 Ford Falcon of Chris Clarkson above is hounded by the Jaguar E-Type of Alan Bull. Alan retired the Jaguar, while Chris and co driver Williams came home second 26 seconds adrift of the Morgan.
I hope it is not another 30 years before the VSCC returns to Castle Combe and that Bernies V8’s and twilight racing return early in the new year with bigger grids.
Full results for all last weekends races at Castle Combe can be found on this link.
Thanks for joining me on this ‘Autumn Classic’ edition of “Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for a look at a 1954 Blue Flame powered sports car. Don’t forget to come back now !