LLandow Sprint 12 May 2012

After a year out of the HSA Championship (doing the Loton Championship and Toyota Sprint Series) I’ve returned with the ex-Laurence Marks’ Fiat Panda 100HP and it was good to see so many familiar faces in the paddock. This sprint was run jointly by the Bristol Motor Club and the Bristol Pegasus Motor Club and was round 11 in the HSA Championship.

In the event on the day I was in a class of two with Llandow regular Rebekah Edwards in her VW Lupo, but in the HSA event I was in a class of two with Andrew Till in his MG ZR105. I came second in both classes but was quite happy with my performance, with a best time of 98.31 seconds over the one and three quarter lap course, which was faster than three of the MX5s in a big MX5 class.

Here are some photos…

But first a brief video that I took at the start of the day to give an idea of the atmosphere for those who haven’t been to a sprint event. This was when we were waiting for the drivers briefing.

And now some photos…

Charlotte Phelps in her Westfield getting a push from her brother Adam while Dad, John, looks on.

A very jovial Carole Nicholls in her Nike Formula Ford. This was the first time I’d met Carole but after my second timed run I headed off early to see my mother in Crickhowell and as I left there after a cup of tea I’m sure I saw the Nike on a trailer heading that way, so perhaps they are neighbours.

Luke Trotman’s mean looking Mallock. I bet he was reluctant to stick that HSA sticker on the side. Far too colourful ūüėČ

Fyrth Cross getting ready for the off in his immaculate Ensign in which he set a new HSA class record of 80.69 for the Classic Racing Cars and Sports Racing Cars built before 1976 class.

MX5s for as far as the eye can see.

People say I change my cars a lot. How about Gordon Hick! Here he is in his new Ford Focus RS. I never did get to see his GT86 before he sold it.

They had the gearbox out of this. I was dead impressed.

Geoff Stallard in his Elan leaving a cloud of smoke at the start line.

Paul Meadows in his Clio at the start line.

Rebekah Edwards is beautifully colour coordinated with her Dora Motorsport VW Lupo. Rebekah won our class with a time 93.69.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though. When Rebekah returned after her second practice run there was a lot of steam and smoke coming from the engine after the water housing exploded on the start line. Her team was quickly dispatched to Bridgend to get a part and they had it all back and fitted (and a new sets of wheels and tyres fitted too) with a minute to spare before the timed runs commenced after lunch. I don’t think she or her team stopped smiling throughout the whole thing – great team work.

I should have brought my GT86 and added to the yellowness. Here’s Andrew Till in his MG. Andrew is comfortably leading my class in the HSA championship and is fifth overall.

Here he is again, rounding the bus stop on three wheels. (My camera decided to malfunction so all these photos were taken with my phone, hence the poor quality of this one).

Andrew Webber’s Lotus Elan +2 which is currently leading the HSA championship.

Paul Jones’s Exige. Paul was fastest in the Modified Series Production over 1800cc class with a time of 82.98.

How didn’t I notice the helmet in front of Chris Howard-Harris’s face? Or did Lynn Gilbert put it there on purpose to steal the limelight?

This is a better photo, taken by someone else and which I’ve ‘borrowed’ from the HSA Championship Facebook Group page. L-R: Charlotte and Adam Phelps, James Robertson, Lynn and Chris.

So, that was my first sprint in the Panda. I can’t see myself winning anything this year, but I think it’s going to be a fun season ūüôā

Llandow Track Day 5 May 2018

I went down to Llandow circuit in South Wales on Saturday to see what the Panda was like on track.

No sooner had I parked up than a guy came over for a chat – Anthony. He too had a 100HP but was passenger in a RenaultSport Megane for the day.

Then I got talking to the guys next to me in the paddock with a RenaultSport Clio and the passenger there, Rob, also had a 100HP! I took him out for a few laps in mine and think it would be good to get all three out on track together some time . Maybe a few more too. Perhaps I’ll organise something through the 100HP Facebook group.

When competing, the trick will be to carry as much speed as possible through the corners as there’s not much in the way of acceleration. The fast back end of the circuit was fine and the car was nice and stable through the fast corners and through the little kink at the end of the straight, but I don’t think I really mastered the tight wiggly complex by the control tower. I feel I should have been going much faster and raising a rear wheel but don’t think that happened, just lots of tyre squealing. It was fun though and the small OMP steering wheel allowed me to do the whole complex without repositioning my hands on the wheel, which was very reassuring.

I changed the wheels for the day and put on the Toyo Proxes R888Rs. These are very sticky and I liked them a lot. I ran them at 20psi (cold) but am not quite sure of the optimum pressure.

They are not uni-directional but have an outside and an inside which means that their tread pattern is ‘backwards’ on one side. Seems odd to me but I noticed another car there with the same set up and it’s right apparently.

On the subject of tyres the guy next to me in the Clio was very disappointed in his tyres which broke up after just one session. Perhaps as a result of not getting them up to temperature before really trying or too much curbing? Anyway he had to abandon his day.

The only problem I had was brake fade. I’ve got EBC Red Stuff pads fitted and they are clearly not suitable for track days. I have Yellow Stuff in the GT86 and these are much better when they get hot. However, I’ll probably leave the red pads in as they won’t get hot in a short sprint or hillclimb and they are fine for the road.

Yesterday I heard that my reserve place at next Saturday’s Bristol Motor Club and HSA Championship Sprint at Llandow is confirmed as someone has had to drop out. So last Saturday’s track day sets me up nicely for my first competition in the Panda. The HSA class record is 90.02 set in a Suzuki Swift so that’s what I’ll be aiming for.

It’s a two and a half hour motorway journey from Kinver to Llandow and the Ragazzon exhaust really does drone but it certainly wasn’t uncomfortable and I can see myself taking this little car far and wide without a trailer. It’s all Good!

Here are some random paddock shots from the day…

Unusual Cars

GT86 and Panda

I’ve often remarked in this blog that we don’t often see similar cars on the road.¬† Sometimes it’s weeks before we see another one and with the Honda S2000 and now the Toyota GT86 we’ve been on holidays in Europe and not seen another one at all.¬† Not even on the way from the Midlands to Calais.

Pandas are pretty common though, but Panda 100HPs not so much and there are similar conversations on the Panda 100HP forum as there are on the GT86/BRZ forum – “Spotted! On M40 going south. Red GT86. Anyone on here?”

So I thought I’d see how they compare.

The Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ are essentially the same car, so I’ll count them as one. According to How Many Left there are approx 4,000 GT86/BRZs on the road plus about 600 BRZs, so 4,600.

Pandas? Well if we count only the Series 2 Panda made from¬†2003‚Äď2012 there are…¬† ¬†a lot. I can’t easily separate out the second generation cars from the earlier and later Pandas. However, suffice to say you see them everywhere. But how about the Panda 100HP? These are definitely easier to count and harder to see.¬† 1,700 on the roads in the UK.¬† That’s rare.¬† Much rarer than a GT86.

But if we want really rare, the yellow GT86 Giallo takes the biscuit. Only  82 left of the 86 sold in the UK.

My Dad always liked to be a bit different too. When others had  Fords and Vauxhalls we had a Vanden Plas  then a 3 litre Rover and later a series of Lancias. For a second car where the neighbours had Minis and Vivas we had a Renault Dauphine, then an NSU Prinz.

On May 26/27 at Prescott Hillclimb the Bugatti Owners Club is holding their annual French weekend – La Vie En Bleu. On the Saturday they are incorporating¬†La Vita Rossa to feature Italian cars. Undoubtedly it will be oversubscribed as all those Bugattis, Ferraris, Maseratis, Lamborghinis and Alfa Romeos vie to get on track.¬† However, I’ve entered the humble Panda and am hoping the organisers recognise the pedigree and rarity of the 100HP and give me a shot up the hill.

For more information about La Vie En Bleu see Prescott Hillclimb.

What’s red and Italian?¬†

Jacqui decided I wasn’t fully committed to hillclimbing in the GT86¬† and that maybe I ought to get another race car.¬† It’s true, although I was frustrated by having to go to work in our old estate car each day while my Lotus sat in the garage to be taken out and raced only a dozen times a year, using its replacement, the GT86, on a daily basis and for touring holidays has made me wary of racing it.¬† So, she bought me something red and Italian – a Fiat Panda!

Panda Day 1

It’s not the most aerodynamic of shapes and is a little lacking on the horsepower front, yet it’s perfect!¬† This is the car that Laurence Marks has been developing over the last few years and which he has competed in in the HSA Championship. When I first saw it in 2014 I had my Van Diemen Formula Ford. Now Laurence has a Van Diemen FF and I have his Panda.

October  11th 2014 at Curborough. The first time I met Laurence and first time I saw the Panda.

However, it’s no normal Panda this. This is the rare six speed, 100 bhp Panda 100HP to which Laurence has fitted a full cage,¬† Sparco seat and racing¬† harness,¬†¬†Ragazzon exhaust, CDA induction kit,¬†Columbo & Barriani cam, CDA induction kit,¬†Koni suspension, EBC discs and¬†Team Dynamics wheels.¬† He let us have it at a very reasonable price on condition that if I ever wanted to sell it, I’d give him first refusal. I don’t think he really wanted to sell it at all, but needed the space. (I know that feeling – remember my two Renault 4s?)

So, this is my new project. It’s road legal and I’ll be competing in the HSA championship again after a year off doing the Toyota Sprint Series and Loton Championship.¬† It will be in¬† Class A1 – Roadgoing Series Production cars up to 1400cc.¬† I have no plans for changing the car at all for the first year as I have a lot to learn about driving a front wheel drive car and this will be the challenge and the interest. The challenge too will be to beat Laurence’s times!

Fiat Panda 100HP

This photo of Laurence driving the Panda is taken from his excellent blog –Laurence Marks – away from the office.

And what of the GT86? Well, I’ve probably driven Mike at Tuning Developments nuts with my vacillating. First I had him remove the performance exhaust manifold he fitted last year and flash my ECU back to standard, then I decided to have it all put back on in order to take this season a bit more seriously, now all thoughts of racing it are put aside and the exhaust manifold and ‘over pipe’ kit has been removed. So if anyone knows anyone who wants¬† it, please get in touch. ¬£600 posted.

Tuning Developments Exhaust Manifold

I also bought a set of light Konig Daylite wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres¬† fitted. The idea was to get these List 1B tyres and try to beat the times I achieved at Loton last year on List 1A tyres.¬† I may keep these wheels and just sell on the tyres as they’re road legal track tyres and I’m not sure how well they’d behave when cold and in the wet.

So that’s it. A new car, a new challenge. Let’s go racing again! What a wife!

Roadtrip to Spain 2018 (Part 2)

We’re just back from a two week jaunt to Alicante in Spain.¬† The total distance was 3,354 miles and we averaged 36.9 mpg, which was marginally better than the 36.4 we achieved on the trip to the Picos de Europa¬†last year (see blog post Roscoff to Stourbridge) .

GT86 BRZ fuel economy mpg

While Jacqui was driving on the last day I went onto a Pistonheads forum and asked whether I could do better than the GT86 for a ¬£30K sportscar / 2+2 which could average 36 mpg on a roadtrip.¬† There was a good discussion and I think we concluded that if we rule out hot hatches (which I do) and all diesel cars (which I also do) then there isn’t really anything. There was some debate as to whether the GT86 is a sportscar and some suggestions for things like the Elise, but having owned one and also done a few European journeys in a Honda S2000, the GT86 is definitely the most comfortable and most practical. So practical in fact that when my youngest son flew out to Alicante¬† to join us for a few days we could pick him up in it and we even drove to Valencia and back with him in the back and with no complaints. I have thought about getting an Abarth 124 Spider but you couldn’t do that in one of those.

Adult in the rear seat of a GT86

As mentioned in the previous post we¬† crossed the Channel through the Eurotunnel, which is our favoured way over to France. However, we did try something new this year which we have not used before. These are toll tags. My brother-in-law recommended them and they are brilliant. You have one for each country and they stick onto the windscreen behind the rear view mirror. Then when you approach a motorway toll, instead of stopping and paying (always a hassle in a low right-hand-drive car on the continent, even with a passenger), the tag beeps and the barrier rises (and your bank account is debited). So satisfying to pass the queues of people hunting for change or their mislaid tickets. They are also brilliant for hiding the costs of all of those tolls from you.¬† Normally, after paying, we say to ourselves that we should really try to avoid the toll roads. These things lull you into thinking that they’re free! I daren’t look at the bank account!

Motorway toll tages for France and Spain

It took us three days to get down to Oliva just north of Alicante, stopping at M√Ęcon and then Figueres. Jacqui thought the road down through France was boring (which it was) so for the return journey we took an extra half day and went via Andorra in the Pyrenees. Our return journey looks a bit odd when plotted on the map but we called in to see some friends in Auvillar and that pulled us a little west. Anyway, the return journey was much more interesting. Some may wonder why we avoid Paris. Lots of people go that way and we have too in the past, but I doubt our marriage could survive another afternoon sat in traffic completely lost on the French equivalent of the M25.

It can never make financial sense to drive to Alicante as opposed to flying and renting a hire car. However, we like the journey and the unexpected things you see on the way. We also like the freedom of being able to change our plans¬† at a moment’s notice and take odd little detours.¬† Here’s a little unplanned detour- well, as you can see we were a little lost somewhere in northern Spain with the snow covered Pyrenees in the distance. That GT86 can go anywhere!

a country road in Spain

This is the road we should have been on…

We normally take in a motor museum on our trips but alas on this trip we didn’t. However, the Dali Museum in Figueres did yield this little artistic gem.

Car at Dali Museum

My photo doesn’t really explain it and neither does this video I suppose, but at least the video shows why it is called the Rainy Taxi.

Oliva, where we have an apartment.  There seems to be a good classic car club down  the road in Denia.  Shame about Brexit.


My son took this photo. No Photoshop involved, just careful positioning of the car and camera. A real crock of gold.

Rainbow over a GT86

On the way home our first stop was in Sitges. This was taken in the morning at the harbour. By lunchtime the scenery was a little different…


We’ve driven over the Pyrenees¬† before but only in the summer and were surprised there was so much snow there still.

On a road trip the music is all important. When I first bought the Giallo I thought the audio unit was very weak and there was also no built-in sat nav so I bought a Clarion NX302E head unit.

This gave me a Bluetooth connection to my phone for Spotify and phone use, a rear view camera and European maps. The sound quality was immediately better, however, the unit really is disappointing. The main problems concern the number of clicks (stabs with your finger on the display) that you have to make to change anything.¬† When you’re driving fast on the wrong side of the road in a foreign country you don’t want to be distracted by a slow reacting interface. The things that irritate me most are that you cannot quickly change¬†the maps from North Up to Direction of Travel Up and you cannot easily zoom in and out. Also, you cannot easily turn the volume off (really! there is no Off button, only a temporary¬†mute button). OK there is a volume off setting, but that is buried deep in the system settings and you cannot navigate to those easily when driving.¬† The radio is ridiculous¬†– there are pre-sets but they are not easy to set (which you need to do when you leave the UK) and there is no auto tuning facility and no tuning knob.¬† The Bluetooth¬†is also flaky and the unit doesn’t fit the dash without spacers either¬†side. Why did I buy it! So, for the next roadtrip in June to Italy I want to get something different. Not sure what yet but it’s sure to have some hard buttons on it,¬† not just virtual buttons and if I cannot get what I want I will ditch the sat nav and use my phone and settle for a good audio system. I’m not sure these all-in-one things are any use at all. Rant over.

Apart from the head unit everything else on the car worked perfectly and it got a lot of admiring looks along the way and favourable comments at service stations.¬† As on previous visits to France and Spain we didn’t see one other GT86 or BRZ. Well, come to think of it we didn’t see one on the way to and from Folkstone either. We saw lots of Porsches and BMWs. Common as muck they are.

So another good trip, but at the end of the journey – What a mess!

Spanish Fly


Roadtrip to Spain 2018 (Part 1)

Blogging from the passenger seat… We crossed by the Eurotunnel yesterday morning and got to Sanc√© near M√Ęcon by late afternoon.

From my postcard blog (postcardsforpetrolheads) I was aware of this fine photograph and postcard of a cafe in Sance. What a fantastic location it would make for a Maigret novel! I couldn’t use it of course since it didn’t have a car in, but decided to go and see if it was still there. Jacqui is most accommodating to my little whims so eventually we find it. What a great building! So I got her to position the car just so and plonked a nice car in my own photo of the place. Next stop Figueres.

We passed some impressive chateaux along the way but I prefer the path less well travelled and the slightly odd ball places. We’re now in Figueres and find ourselves in this bar on the wall of which is a photograph in which is a Renault Dauphine. I learnt to drive in a Dauphine at the age of ten so have always had a soft spot for them. So I took a photo of it. Went for a walk later and found the same building. Perhaps this is going to be a theme of this holiday – past and present.

Snow Day Blogging


It’s a snow today today and the GT86 is safely tucked up in the garage. I had some minor scratches sorted in the week by Smart Insurance, who I can highly recommend, and while they were here (they work at your home or workplace) they pointed out that the lacquer had come off various small places on the front. I hadn’t noticed this before but took it into Toyota yesterday to see whether we can claim on the warranty. Photos were taken and¬† sent to head office. They didn’t say no, so fingers crossed…¬† The car has to go in for a power steering recall anyway but I have to say that after 41,000 miles it is still running absolutely perfectly and is still a great practical sports car. That said, we are thinking of changing it before the summer to get another convertible as we have a trip planned to Tuscany.

Before that though we are planning a drive down to Oliva in Spain at Easter and a snow day is just the opportunity I need to plan the trip. 1,800 km each way, so 600 km per day should be feasible. We did contemplate doing it in two days but that would curtail the lunch stops and we do like a nice lunch. My brother-in-law and my nephew did it in one go in a Porsche 911, but they could not sit down for a week after that. The last time we did it was in the Honda S2000 over the Pyrenees, but that was a more leisurely drive. This trip we want to get there quickly.

The idea was to have a couple of weeks of warmth and sunshine, so it was a bit of surprise to hear that the F1 testing in Barcelona this week was more or less snowed off. That’s not supposed to happen!

The timing of this trip isn’t perfect as I’ll miss the first hillclimb event of the season at Loton Park and I’ve also realised that we’ll have to be careful about the hotel choice on 24 March as it will need to be showing the Australian Grand Prix on TV for breakfast on the Sunday morning. First GP of the year. How will Alonso do? Very exciting! Very exciting too to see an Alfa logo once again on a GP car. Good luck to Sauber!

Sauber Alfa Romeo

If you read my other blog about my postcard collection – Postcards for Petrolheads¬† – you will have seen quite a few Italian cars featured recently. This morning I posted my Iso Grifo card. What a find! And I’ve also just bought one with a¬† Facel Vega on it, which is a coincidence since I mentioned that rare marque only last week on here.¬† Here’s the Facel Vega postcard which I will be blogging about after working out the route to Oliva.

Facel Vega postcard

OK, let’s get planning; route, tolls, restaurants and hotels. I do love a road trip!


Race Retro 24 Feb 2018

We had a busy day today. Drove over to Stoneleigh Park near Coventry in the GT86 for Race Retro and then down to Silverstone for the tail end of  the Pomeroy Trophy meeting run by the Vintage Sports Car Club. It was nice to bump into a few people I know at Race Retro and we were surprised to see so many GT86s and BRZs in the car park.

Here are a few photos.

Race Retro

Good to see these in the flesh after featuring them on Gifts for Petrolheads.

I like an IPA and this Silverstone IPA wasn’t bad.

If you follow my other blog – postcards for petrolheads – you will know I’ve just found another car that uses these rear lights (see Three into One). If you know of any more, please let me know.

Silverstone –¬†Pomeroy Trophy

I think this is a Ferrari 166 Inter of about 1949 with a body by¬†Carrozzeria Touring. Rare eh? It’s great to see it being used and not in a museum this cold Saturday in February.

And here’s another rarity. I love Facel Vegas. I used to have a model of one as a little boy and used to study its lines and details in the Observer Book of Automobiles. What a car! Look at that windscreen! The lights! The grills!

I wonder whether he has a sticker that says ‘There are no Bugattis left in this van overnight’.


Awards Lunch and New Blog Address

On Sunday I was lucky enough to pick up an award at the Hagley & District Light Car Club’s annual awards lunch for joint second in class in the Loton Championship.


My racing plans for 2018 are a little up in the air at the moment as I may change my car, but rest assured this blog will continue – it’s been going for 8 years now!¬† It will however be moving from WordPress.com to its own domain – beambreaking.co.uk.

Curborough Sprint 8 Oct 2017

On the Sunday I was back at Curborough but for an event organised by a different club – the Midlands Automobile Club – and using a different configuration of the course – the figure of eight. This wasn’t a round of any championship I’m in but was just for fun and my best time was¬†72.14.

Here are some photos…


Curborough Sprint 7 Oct 2017

My best time in the Toyota GT86 prior to today on the single lap configuration was 40.08. The best time I have ever done was 35.78 in the Lotus (which is currently the HSA two litre roadgoing class record).  The day started off dry but very slippery and there were a number of spins but the track soon came good and times fell and on the final run I got a Personal Best of 39.74.  This is well off the pace of the class but I was quite happy with it considering how standard the car is.

Here are some pics…

This last picture is interesting because a stranger came up to me and told me that GH had bought a GT86 and he showed me this photo on his phone. Looking forward to Loton Park next year then ūüôā

My next outing is tomorrow back at Curborough, but for the figure of eight course.

Curborough Sprint 10 Sept 2017

I had a good time at Curborough last Sunday with a best time of 40.08. Not quick enough to win anything but the bacon sandwich and the friendly competition more than made up for that.

A very late entry gave me a very high race number, which was very appropriate for a Toyota GT86 and probably allocated for that reason. Thanks!

There was a good selection of cars taking part as can be seen from the following photos.

This is Alan and Nick Mugglestone returning to the paddock in their championship winning Raw Fulcrum. Rumour has it that it might be up for sale at the end of the season.

The shape of the Raw Fulcrum is very unusual and somehow brings to mind the famous Deltawing race car that the Mugglestones also worked on.

Next one for me is back at Curborough on Saturday October 7 for a single lap HSA event and then returning on the Sunday for a MAC event which is a figure of eight.