Curborough 23 April 2017

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Me struggling to get lined up for the straight after completing the first lap. Photo by John Sheppard.

 

At the end of the last post I said I’d rushed to the post office with entries for the next Loton and for Curborough.  These were posted with first class stamps at the main post office in Stourbridge.  My entry for Curborough (to Sheffield & Hallamshire Motor Club) was never received, but I was allowed to complete the forms again and pay on the day so I did have a very enjoyable Sunday.  This morning I received a phone call to say my entry had arrived! That’s a week to deliver a first class letter!!  Anyway, enough ranting.

I entered the GT86 in the 1701-2000 cc Standard Class  and got thoroughly beaten coming 6th out of 7.  I could talk about tyres again and I could talk about some Standard cars looking far from standard with cages and competition seats etc, but the reality was that I never mastered the delicate balance between power and grip and found myself making a lot of tyre noise but not going quickly enough. It was fun anyway and with 5 figure of eights for £89 it was good value.

Here are some photos.

There were four S2000s competing and even more had come to watch. Mrs R-S is just about to put hers back on the road after SORNing it for the winter and is planning a wheel refurb so I was particularly interested in wheel colours. What will she go for I wonder?

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Here’s Mike Hawley in a spin…

And regular blog reader Raymond Worrall…

There are always interesting things to see in the spectators’ parking area at Curborough too. Here’s a selection…

As old as me – a TVR Grantura.

But let’s finish with a bit of drama. This is how to drive it. Peter Shenton wasn’t fastest on the day but certainly provided the most entertainment.

(By the way, I took these vids with my phone. Not bad eh?)

Car hunting

This has been a very odd season for me as I’ve hardly competed at all and now it’s almost over. What shall I replace the Elise with? I change my mind on a daily basis. One reason I haven’t committed to anything yet is that I have been waiting to see what the new Abarth 124 Spider is like and a few weeks ago I went to Silverstone to drive it at a special event ahead of its UK launch, which is next weekend.  This seems to tick all the boxes. It’s quick, it handles well, it looks good (to my eyes), it’s interesting and won’t be too common and I could use it for both  holidays abroad and for hillclimbing. But it’s expensive.

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The Fiat 124 Spider (below) was launched this weekend and I had a test drive this afternoon. The interior is very like Jacqui’s S2000  but with only 140 horsepower from its 1400cc turbocharged engine it is 100 bhp down on the Honda and feels very slow by comparison. This did not really surprise me but I just wanted to make sure. The Abarth  gets an extra 30 bhp but is still nowhere near the S2000’s 240 bhp but still may tempt me. I could easily buy into that whole Abarth culture thing. The problem is the price. Abarth take a Fiat 124 Spider,  fit a limited slip diff, different exhaust system, Bilstein coilovers and Brembo brakes and tune the suspension and engine. For this they charge  £6270 over the 124 Lusso Plus. However, the Lusso Plus comes with Sat Nav, a decent  9 speaker Bose sound system and LED lights. These are all extras on the Abarth and push the price up to over £32,000 and makes difference between the two cars £8735. What’s more, according to the catalogue, you cannot get the reversing camera, which is standard on the Lusso Plus, on the Abarth. Now, some may say you don’t need one on such a small car but I also have a big Honda Accord and this is far easier to reverse that the S2000 because you can see the back of it. I can’t see the back of the S2000 from the driver’s seat so thought the camera on the Lusso Plus was a useful feature.

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Anyway, I will book a test drive in an Abarth as soon as they arrive in the country, in the hope that I fall in love with it. Otherwise the search will go on. I haven’t been blogging about it, but to give you a flavour, on Friday night I looked at a 2002 Carrera 4S Turbo, which the salesman assured me would be worth five grand more next year, but I doubted I could afford any repair bills on such a complex car so walked away from it. Yesterday we went to see a GT86 in Bromsgrove but it had a flat battery so we couldn’t drive it and the cabin wasn’t very inspiring so we walked away from that too and we’ve also looked at TVRs, which I like but am put off by stories of unreliability.

Carrera 4S

 

Toyota GT86

 

We've looked at a few TVRs

Perhaps Jacqui already has my perfect car…

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The sensible thing might be to go down the German route – Audi, BMW, Porsche – but for some reason they all seem a little sterile and uninteresting to me.

 

 

 

Loton Park 17 April 2016

Where would this blog be without Rob MacDonald and his camera? This one is me going round Fallow on all four wheels and not on the grass.
Where would this blog be without Rob MacDonald and his camera? This one is me going round Fallow on all four wheels and not on the grass.

So, following on from yesterday… I was in the S2000 for Sunday’s event. This was interesting but a little frustrating because it meant no championship points for Round 6 of the HSA Championship nor for Round 2 of the Allswage Loton Park Championship as I was not competing in the car which I had entered. And of course I got no points on Saturday as I was unable to compete at all. All in all not a great start to the season. A bit like Hamilton’s. Missing the first rounds of the Loton Championship is the biggest blow as there are only eight rounds and all count. The HSA Championship has 32 rounds with the best 9 counting. However, I was planning on doing only four local rounds which I could drive to (rather than trailering) and trying to win the Peter Stevens Memorial Trophy (best result from only four rounds). Anyway, as I say, it was interesting driving the S2000.

Interesting because the S2000 produces its power between 6000 and 9000 revs, whereas my Lotus is a like a steam train from 1000 revs all the way up to 8000. So driving the S2000 fast requires a whole different technique and I didn’t manage to perfect keeping within this rev band in the four runs I had up the hill. It was also very strange to drive without a safety harness and in a car with standard (soft) suspension, which meant that I was not able to keep my foot down the whole way up Cedar Straight. It was also interesting as it reminded me of my MX5 days and how easy it is to arrive and drive in a car with a boot and interior space. A far cry from the Lotus which has so little space for either my stuff or myself. I think that after Saint Goueno at the end of May I’ll look at changing the Lotus for something more usable on the roads.

Even though I was unable to gain championship points, it was, as always, good fun to be at Loton and as the Honda has a good old fashioned steel chassis I was able to return to the ‘Roadgoing up to Two Litre’ Class. The Lotus, this year, is in a separate class at Loton for non-ferrous chassis cars that seems to include both roadgoing and modified production cars. It doesn’t matter too much to me since the event classes do not affect either of the two championships I am in, but it does seem a bit odd.

My best time of the day was in second practice with a 70.46 (about ten seconds slower than the Lotus) and my best in competition was 71.40, which was almost last. Rachel Gascoigne and Michael Tindale (with a PB of 70.56) both relished the fact that they had beaten an S2000 (and me of course), but to be fair both drove really well and I was too cautious. Still, I was just happy to have completed the four runs without incident and been able to return the car to Jacqui in one piece.

My next outing is the National weekend on 14/15 May, assuming the Elise is fixed and my entry is accepted.

Here are a few photos. I have uploaded others to the HSA Facebook Group page. The HSA report will follow shortly (tomorrow) on the HSA website.

Alistair Clark's Elise.
Alistair Clark’s Elise.
Simona Andrews on his way to a class win.
Simon Andrews on his way to a class win.
Sarah and Colin Davies in their second year with the HSA.
Sarah and Colin Davies in their second year with the HSA.
My S2000 amongst the Lotus.
My S2000 amongst the Lotus.

Loton Park 16 April 2016

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Let’s start with a bit of dialogue.

Me – Are you coming to Loton tomorrow?
Jacqui – No, I fancy a lazy day. I’ll come on Sunday.
Me – OK.
Jacqui  – Can you feed the cats before you leave? I  don’t want them waking me up.
Me – Not a problem.

The relevance of this will become apparent soon.  Last week I had a new clutch fitted in the Lotus but I only picked up up the car yesterday and there was no time to test anything. This morning I woke at 6 a.m. to find it snowing quite heavily. I stuffed all my gear into the passenger footwell, put the demisters on, the headlight on, the wipers on and headed off to Loton. (It’s all relevant). About five minutes away from Loton I was no longer able to change gear and  coasted to a standstill in neutral. Then I switched off the engine. And then I was truly stuck. Flat battery.  It’s now about 7.30.  More dialogue?

Me – Hi Jax,  I’m afraid I’ve broken down.
Jacqui – Uh? What day is it?
Me – I’m near Loton. Can you bring the trailer?
Jacqui – Uh? Haven’t you got the trailer?
Me – No you’ll have to bring it.
Jacqui – what time is it?

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So I wait patiently. Jacqui of course is hitching up the trailer and getting the whole caboodle on the road.  And then who should turn up but Tony Adams. He’d already arrived at Loton but someone had told him his old car was broken down on the A458 and so he’d come to rescue me.  He connected the Lotus to his Range Rover with the shortest tow rope I have ever seen and we set up for Loton. I had no power and no wipers and the Lotus windscreen was soon covered in slushy muck thrown up by the Range Rover. It was the most terrifying trip I have ever had.

The Lotus is then in its paddock position at Loton and various people look at it but although we can start it on a battery pack we cannot engage gears. During the lunch break we move it so it is easier to get onto the trailer but we don’t leave until mid afternoon and get back about 5pm. On the way home my wife and I have a nice chat.

Me – What a waste of money. And of course I’ve already paid for tomorrow too.
Jacqui – Can’t get it back?
Me – Too late now…  What would you think if I used your car tomorrow?
Jacqui – I thought you said it wasn’t any good because it was completely standard.
Me – Well… no, it would be fine and I won’t drive it very fast.
Jacqui – OK.  It doesn’t matter that it hasn’t got a harness or roll bar ?
Me – Nah, it’ll be great. Thanks.a lot, Darling.

So tonight I’ve made a timing strut for it and taken out all Jacqui’s things and tomorrow I’ll be back at Loton in the Roadgoing up to 2 litre class. Should be fun!

Final conversation just now.

Jacqui – You’re not racing next weekend, are you?
Me – No. Prescott next weekend but I’m not entered.
Jacqui – Do you fancy going to stay with my Mum?
Me – Hey, that sounds great!

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Curborough 10 October 2015

This is an anniversary.
My first ever event (on four wheels) was at the HSA end of season sprint at Curborough in October 2009. Looking back it seems an odd time to start – the last event of the season – but that’s what I did and of course there is a blog entry about it – Curborough October 2009,  though that is not the first blog entry, which was about selling my Chevrolet Corvair to buy an MX5 track day car.   Anyway, a lot has happened since 2009. I have competed in 109 events  at 16 venues –
Blyton Park
Curborough
Gurston Down
Harewood
Llandow
Llys-y-Fran
Loton Park
Mallory Park
MIRA
Pembrey
Prescott
Shelsley Walsh
Thoresby Park
Ty Croes (Anglesey)
Werrington
Wiscombe Park
and I am onto my third competition car, having sold the MX5, tried single seaters in the form of a Formula Ford and am now back in Roadgoing Class with a Lotus Elise. Since the outset I have competed in the HSA Speed Championship, initially because they have an MX5 class, but then because I like travelling around a bit and visiting different places and HSA membership allows you to do that.
Back in 2009 I didn’t know a soul and of course I didn’t know how events are run or what I had to do. Today I know so many people and the procedures are second nature.  In the 2015 HSA Sprint there were 72 entries, some in their first sprint like me in 2009 and others with a little more experience like Alex Summers, the 2015 British Hillclimb Champion. That always amazes me – that we amateurs find ourselves on the same bill as those at the top of their sport. (Back in 1978 I was overtaken on the inside by Barry Sheene at Paddock Bend at Brands Hatch, but that was a practice session not a race meeting,  let alone a race).
Anyway, back to 2015 – there were eleven in my class including three Honda S2000s and I got the class win and set a new HSA class record of 35.78. It was a cold day and the track was slightly slippery (I span off onto the grass infield in second practice) so I was well pleased with this, especially as it was quicker than anyone in the over two litre roadgoing class too. As far as the HSA championship goes, I think I’ve finished joint 4th with Bradley Hobday, though this has to be officially confirmed. Apart from the championship points it’s been great fun – travelling around the country, meeting old friends and making new ones,  improving by tenths of seconds here, spinning off there, squelching about in muddy fields (Wiscombe and Werrington) and enjoying ice creams on hot days (Loton).  What am I going to do for the next six months?
Let’s have some photos…
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What a collection of cars! The gullwing is Geoff Twemlow’s Saker GT, behind that is Rowland Turner’s completely original, owned since new, Ford Escort MkI Mexico (Rowland told me that his very first sprint was this event in 1978), and on the right, number 98, is Fyrth Crosse’s Mallock U2, which is currently up for sale.  And here they are in action…
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 Hiding behind the Mexico in the top picture is another classic roadgoing  saloon – Graeme Williamson’s Hillman Imp, and here he is out on track…
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I mentioned that there were three S2000s. These always interest me as Jacqui has one..IMG_6376
The bronze one belongs to Mike Hawley, who won his class in the HSA championship last year and the other two, belonging to Raymond Worrall (16) and Michael Thomson (14) came down from Daytona Autos, an S2000 specialist in Congleton. They brought with them quite a few followers so there lots of interesting S2000s in the spectators area. [Rob and Gail you missed a treat]. And here they are in action…
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That last photo is out of focus I know but the following one was more what I was aiming at…
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Martin Jones in a Raw Phoenix.
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It was good to catch up with Leigh Andrews, who hasn’t been out this year but decided to come and watch the final round of the championship. However, at the last minute he decided to see if he could get an entry, which he did, and enjoyed 5 runs in his immaculate Mazda RX8.
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Ken Morris was the fastest of the MX5 runners and he and I both got into the class winners’ run off, though neither of us improved on our times so were never in contention for the award.
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Here’s another MX5. Mervyn Brake, probably with standard suspension.
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Another out of focus photo I’m afraid, but here we have Gary Thomas (who got FTD) coming around Fradley hairpin. Love it! The angle of his head compared with the wheels.
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Here’s Wil Ker in his OMS CF09.
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And here’s Richard Arrowsmith in a Force.
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Finally a photo of two HSA members who have always encouraged me… Gordon Hick and Firth Crosse.  It was also good to see Peter Hubbard again, who came to remind himself what it was all about. He took the year off to restore a 1931  AJS D9 (see his fantastic account on Facebook – AJSD9) but promises to be back with something rather different –  powered by a V8 two-stroke engine out of a boat!
Well that’s the end of this blog post. It’s not meant to be a race report – those appear on the HSA website.  These are simply personal scribblings. So, another season over.  See you in 2016 if not at the HSA Awards Lunch in November, which you can book here – Awards Lunch.
Finally a big thank you to Alan Goodwin of Aldon Automotive for looking after the Lotus. What a car!

Loton Park 9 August 2015

Another great day at Loton!  The weather was good all day and the atmosphere was as friendly as ever. After travelling around the country all year chasing HSA points, it felt like coming home.

If you read yesterday’s post you’ll know this was supposed to be the day I cracked the 60 second barrier, but again it eluded me. I think I’m driving Mark Dalton and his crew crazy as they’ve been following my endeavours for years and I’ve promised them all a drink when I do it.  On Saturday I knocked five hundredths of a second off my PB. Today I knocked off another 0.34 seconds so I am down to 60.29.  There’s nothing for it, I’ll have to go back and try again.

I didn’t feel too bad though as I thought I drove quite well and on my first practice run got the HSA Championship class record. On my second run I tried a higher gear through Loggerheads and down to Triangle. It didn’t really work for me but it was worth a go. I was also pleased to have beaten Roger Fish (Honda S2000) who beat me at MIRA. I think  my car is more suited to Loton than his and of course I know Loton better and in trying to match my times he twice had offs. The last one, on his final run, ending in a lucky escape as his Honda careered between two trees at the start of the Cedar Straight and emerged unscathed  We have a final showdown at Curborough in October 🙂

Here are a few photos.

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Mark Dalton had an excellent day in his OMS 2000M on Saturday with a PB of 52.30. Today he was three hundredths slower.
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Nick Tart in his March – my old adversary in the Formula Ford class.
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Martin Garner with his MX5. We once double drove a Formula Ford at Blyton.
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Where are you going, Martin? You’re on the grass going the wrong way. You’re supposed to go down to Triangle not up to Fletchers Dellow.
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Ah! What a difference a day makes! Big smiles all day from Rachel Gascoigne as she steadily improved all weekend to finish with a very impressive PB of 71.04.
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The Ludbrooks seem to have a good relationship. They have an S2000 each. Babs has a blue one too precious to race and Phil has a red one. Babs had an off road excursion in the red one and Phil fixes it. If you like photos of S2000s, here are a few of ours – S2000
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Another nice photo of me in the Elise by Rob MacDonald. Follow him on twitter @RobMacShots.
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People seem to do this sort of thing in front of me when I wander up the hill. Jo Briars falling off the road after Fallow.
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And then aiming right at me!
Another Rob MacDonald shot. Rachel, Roger Bibby, Me, Ruth Marshall and Martin Rutter at the top of the hill.
Another Rob MacDonald shot. Rachel, Roger Bibby, Me, Ruth Marshall and Martin Rutter at the top of the hill.
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Neil Hastle also found it difficult to get around Fallow. The times I’ve done that! Not so much in the Elise though. It was the Van Diemen and MX5 I had trouble with.
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The end of an era. Gordon Hick has just loaded his Fisher Fury Spyder onto the trailer for the last time and it’s up for sale. He’s already sold his Megapin and plans to replace them and the trailer with a tin top he can drive to events (and stay dry in).

France and Spain in an S2000

Just back from a three-week, 3,200 mile driving holiday through France and Spain in Jacqui’s Honda S2000. What a great car! This is the fourth time we’ve taken it over to the continent and I like it more with each trip.

We saw Roman ruins, châteaux and castles, wide golden beaches and snow-capped mountains. We stayed at posh hotels and cheap motels and ate and drank far too often and far too much.   Want to see some holiday photos? Course you do…

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S2000 (3)

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The only other S2000 we saw on the whole trip – back in the UK on the M25.

Le Mans Classic

Just got back from France where we went camping with the Honda S2000, visited the Loire Valley and Somme battlefields and also took in the Le Mans Classic. Here are some car-related holiday snaps. (Click the images to see larger better quality versions.)

Tent on the boot lid as we set off from Dover.
Honda S2000s have digital speedos which makes driving in France easy – just press a button and it switches to kph.

And lots more photos of interesting cars I snapped here –

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65corvair/sets/72157630545342494/