Thanks to the generosity of Simon Lewis I was able to see five, of the ten, races at Castle Combe this weekend in between looking after two otherwise empty houses and a dog called Zed, who naturally was not permitted to come with me to the race track.
You could have heard a pin drop as I arrived at the Circuit around mid day on Saturday, as I got out of the car and looked across Dean Straight and saw a large accumulation of circuit vehicles 2 ambulances and a police car the reason soon became clear, there had been an incident.
It transpired that a Formula Ford car had left the circuit at Bobbies Chicane and come to a rest in the infield during the 2nd lap of the Formula Ford qualification race. Seeing the driver motionless the race was immediately red flagged and marshals arrived at the scene seconds later to find the driver had suffered a heart attack, neither the the marshals, the circuit medics or the crew of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance were able to do anything to revive Peter ‘Pete’ O’Shea’ who was pronounced dead on the scene.
An hour or so later the time table for the weekends activities was hastily rescheduled with the planned Formula Ford races postponed for a day and racing resumed with Chaterham 7 Super Graduates reminding us why we were all at Castle Combe with a thrilling race.
Pole sitter Chris Rome was immediately swallowed up by a pack including Toby Briant, Luke Tzoufrou, Reece Somerfield and Neil Shinner who entertained us with a thrilling battle in which at least three of the Caterhams lost rear wings in an otherwise fair and good natured 4 way dice.
Neil Shinner seen here in 5th place eventually took a well earned win, with the top six finishers being covered by just 2 seconds.
The Sports & GT Championship proved a bit of a disappointment for Ian Hall who got bogged down at the start and was eliminated when he was clipped by Jeremy Irwin. Both Halls fearsome Darrian Wildcat T98 – GTR and Irwin’s Jertona 85/09 were eliminated on the spot. Pole sitter Simon Tilling did not get away cleanly either which allowed Andrew Shanley, in his #86 Radical Prosport, a few short laps of glory before Simon in his orange #23 Radical SR3 got up to speed and back into the lead and a comfortable race win.
The final race I saw on Saturday was for the Caterham Sigma and Classic Graduates the two classes started on separate grids 10 seconds apart with the Ford Sigma powered cars going first, each of the six starters led the class with victory going to John Gil this time the top 4 finished within 1 second of each other. The Caterham Classic Graduates race also had an interesting battle with the odd wing being lost in combat, John Parker won the class from James Carvey by over 3 seconds which did not reflect the close fought competition during the opening 10 laps of the 15 lap race.
On Sunday I arrived at the Circuit just in time to catch the main event of the weekend a one hour race for Sports 2000 cars. These vehicles first seen in the late 1970’s were an extension of the thinking behind Formula Ford and Formula Ford 2000 open wheel series but with closed bodies and like FF2000 used crate Pinto motors. I believe all three categories got started thanks to former Brands Hatch promoter John Webb.
Nowadays SRCC runs a championship for these cars in original Pinto form and for later Duratec powered cars which run with more sophisticated aerodynamic packages. This round of the series took the place of the cancelled round at Donington Park, due to problems with the local authorities regarding number of days permitted for racing. Sports 2000 teams can run either one or two drivers and must make a scheduled 4 minute pit stop during which refuelling is permitted.
After long time leaders Sherrington and Jenvey experienced suspension failure, Craig Mitchell driving the Duratec powered #22 Lola T88/90 won the event overall,
with Peter Williams and David Pittard coming second in the #88 MCR despite this early indiscretion at Bobbies chicane.
Mike Barnby won the single driver Pinto powered class in the #7 Tiga SC80 despite ignoring repeated black flags towards the end of the race which earned a formal reprimand from the stewards and 2 points on his racing license.
Peter and Harriet Needham won the two driver Pinto powered class in this Tiga SC82 ahead of
the Royal RP42 of William Howe and Formula Ford 1600 star of the 1970’s Wil Arif.
My own retro paint job of the day award went to Mike Johns Duratec Royale RP42 which looked good, but was not classified being 22 laps down at the finish.
Twenty Formula Ford 1600’s came out on Sunday and put on a splendid show in memory of Peter O’Shea, Petes Swift Cooper team mates all carried decals remembering their recently departed team mate and all FF 1600 drivers wore black armbands.
Rob Hall, seen leading above from Felix Fisher and eventual winner Ben Norton, were joined by Steven Jensen in an entertaining four way shoot out that was reflected all the way through the field, from the green flag all the way to the checkers
as evidenced by Adam Cooper, Edward Moore, Roger Orgee and Luke Cooper seen here entering Bobbies Chicane as one in an ultimately vane pursuit of David Vivian in 5th place.
Towards the back of the FF1600 race Pete O’Shea’s friend Darren Hamlen driving the oldest car in the race, the 1980 #74 Royale RP36 managed to pass the #21 Vector of Mike Madge for 12th.
Peter O’Shea was born in Ireland in 1958 and drove in Formula Ford races for three years most recently with the Swift Cooper Team, I hope you will join me in sending condolences to Peter O’Shea’s team, friends and above all his family.
A thread has been started in memory of Peter on this Castle Combe Forum.
My thanks to TSL Sports Timing for the results of all of the weekends races which can be found on this link.
Thanks for joining me on the Peter O’Shea memorial edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, I hope you’ll join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at last weeks action during a test day at Mallory Park. Don’t forget to come back now !