My last MX5 race (?)


[Click images for clearer, larger versions]

Yesterday was the final round of this year’s HSA championship and it was a great finale to the year.  As with all championships, I guess, there is the great championship battle and then there are the lesser squabbles for class honours, personal vendettas and challenges.  Often times these are much more important to individual drivers than who will collect the big cup at the annual award ceremony.

In my class (HSA Class A2.1 Mazda MX5) Nick had it all sewn up but that left second place to be fought over and going into the final round it was between Tony Thomas and me. I was also anxious not to be embarrassed by Ken Morris, who was giving me a shared ride and who had beaten Tony in the wet at Curborough last time we went there.

In the end I came a dismal 6th in a class of eight and Tony came second. This had a knock on effect in the championship with Tony claiming second in class and third overall and I got third in the class and 5th in the championship which I was still quite happy with.  But these facts and figures don’t really convey the sense of drama in the MX5 class nor explain why we’ll all be back next year for more.

For Nick his challenge wasn’t beating us at all but to beat his dad, Alan, who sportingly enters their shared drive in class A2 (Roadgoing 1400-2000cc) and to beat the Curborough HSA class record so securing nine maximum scores – the equivalent of  a one-four-seven in snooker. And he managed both!

For me the challenge wasn’t to beat Tony (as explained in the last post) but to beat Ken in his own car and here we had a great little battle.

  • First Practice went to Ken with 46.32 (Me 47.74)
  • Second Practice – I won with a 43.92 (Ken 44.55)
  • Third Practice – Me 41.22 (Ken 41.59)
  • First Timed – Ken 41.08 (me 41.32)
  • Second Timed – Me 41.23 (Ken 41.26)

And so Ken won our little battle with a best time of 41.08.  For me it was a fisherman’s tale of the one that got away.  My last run was probably the best I’ve ever done at Curborough, but I crunched the gears on the final straight and lost time.  Everyone has a story, eh?

L-R : Me, Tony, Alan, Angela, Nick, Ken, Nigel, Mervyn.

While Ken and I were engrossed in all this, the others were absorbed in their own dramas, Angela Mugglestone improved by over ten seconds from first practice to final run to grab third in class and Nigel Hodson improved on every run to get his time down to 40.82 which he must be delighted with. Michael Tindale will probably be planning to do all the things he promised himself to do last winter (but I don’t think got round to) to get his car competitive and Mervyn did well to finish 6th in a class of nine in the championship.

Now I must get that Van Diemen out and learn how to drive it.  HSA Class J1 (Formula Ford Racing Cars up to 1600cc manufactured before Jan 1994) can’t be as exciting as the MX5 class but it will be a new challenge and I’ll still be able to battle with Tony and co in the overall championship. Roll on 2012!

Full Results from Curborough –

2011 HSA Championship final results –

More Photos.
For more photos see my Facebook album here.

A sad farewell to the little Mazda.

European Rally in Funchal, Maderia,

It’s been a while since my last entry as I’ve been on holiday and now I realise I’ve driven that great little car for the last time.  I’ve been hankering after a single seater for a while and impulsively bought  Martin Pickles’ Van Diemen RF87 when it came up for sale recently.  I hadn’t really planned to buy one before the end of the season but Martin’s looked good and I bought it unseen before I left for Madeira and he delivered it when I got back and spent an evening showing me various little things – like how to change the gear ratios!  Not having a trailer I then put the Mazda on ebay and sold it to someone who wanted a track day car – who also bought it unseen.  It’s going to the Nurburgring in October and to a track day at Spa on the way home  – obviously it’s found a good home.

Various pets including Van Diemen in foreground.

My first event in the Mazda was the HSA end of year event at Curborough in 2009 at which John Gallagher won the HSA championship in his MX5.  I then joined the HSA and in 2010 competed in 8 hill climbs and 7 sprints ( all but one HSA events), coming third  in the MX5 class to Tony Thomas who won the championship outright and Paul Webster and coming joint 17th in the championship, level with Fyrth Crosse.  This year I have competed in 7 hill climbs and 6 sprints (again all but one HSA events) and am sitting second in class behind Nick Mugglestone, who is leading the championship overall.  Without the Mazda I cannot improve my score now but with a bit of luck I hope to be second in class and perhaps snatch a top ten place in the championship.  It’s difficult to predict as only your top nine results are counted and some people haven’t done nine yet. Also, the weather now has a big effect on the scores as from this year they are weighted towards times rather than class position, so a wet day stops people setting low times and thus scoring high points.  Anyway, as I say, the Mazda has gone so I can only watch the last 7 HSA rounds with interest and see where I end up.

It will soon be tearing round the Ring.

I can heartily recommend the Mazda MX5 and the HSA championship to anyone considering starting speed hill climbing or sprinting.  It’s ironic that now my car is competitive with its new suspension setup and now that I have the hang of driving it, I am starting again in something else. But I’m looking forward to the challenge and also looking forward to entering a mainstream class at any club event  and not a special HSA sub-category of one.

Van Diemen RF87 without its bodywork

I’m a little apprehensive about driving the Van Diemen, especially in public so will try and arrange a couple of test sessions and if I think I won’t embarrass myself too much, I’ll enter the final HSA event of the year in it at Curborough on 9 October. I’ve a lot to learn first though, like where to stash my wallet, camera and reading glasses – so easy in the Mazda – no room at all in the Van Diemen.

What I need now is a trailer!

Curborough 12 June 2011

This Sprint – the Graham Hill Trophy Sprint – was organised by the Owen Motor Club and this year was a double lapper.

The weather was absolutely atrocious, though when I left home at 6.30 in the morning it looked OK and so I left my tent behind, thinking I wouldn’t need anywhere to store all my stuff. This was a big mistake as everything I had became saturated including my map, which caused me to get lost on the way home. Anyway, there were four MX5s present  – three in the HSA MX5 class  – Tony Thomas (who unfortunately has missed lots of rounds this year looking after his sick father and so hasn’t been able to seriously defend his title) in his 2 litre Mk 3 and Ken Morris (in only his third event) and myself in our almost identical Mariner Blue 1600 Mk1s – and Paul Webster in his Mk2 MX5 in the Mod Prod class.

In both practice sessions I couldn’t get off the line because of wheelspin and then had a job keeping it on the track . Clearly my driving was lacking a certain finesse and as we stood sheltering under the canopy outside the Signing In Office watching the later classes slithering about, my fellow competitors – who were much faster than me – were on hand as usual with helpful advice.  Tony counselled more haste less speed – drive like you’re on the way home from the supermarket and Ken suggested I start in second gear and just go gently.  I was mulling over this ‘sensible’ advice  when there was a loud bang and lots of smoke.  This was Eric Morrey blowing up his Clan right in front of us between the start line and the escape road.  Never a dull moment. Well, that’s not true in this game so we all, except Eric, welcomed the distraction and peered into the smoking engine compartment and marvelled at the hole in the side of his crankcase.

At the end of the second session Paul (Webster) came over with his critique of my abysmal showing -‘You’re being far too cautious, Bob. The others were way quicker to where I was standing’.  Wheelspin I thought but OK I’ll factor that in too and so all this advice, together with Eric’s deposited engine oil,  goes some was to explaining what happened on my first timed run and why I never made it to the first corner. What I don’t quite understand is Paul’s clapping and Eric’s thumbs up at the end of the video though. Ah, good to be back amongst friends.

I didn’t even look at my second run’s time and though I know it now I won’t mention it here. Suffice to say it was very slow.  I can’t really explain why I was so slow but on the way home I drove extremely cautiously and yet still managed to get sideways on a roundabout in Wolverhampton. I’ll blame my tyres (Toyo Proxes T1-Rs).

Some regular readers have noticed (I know because of the complaining emails I have received) that this posting is a few days late.  Well, apart from real life which has a tendency to get in the way of blog writing, I have been delaying posting because I wanted to see the official results. These have still not been posted by the Owen Motor Club so I can’t tell you with any certainty who won their class awards, but I do know that in the HSA MX5 class Ken beat Tony, which is a great result for him and I hope will encourage him to enter more events. And others seemed to relish the conditions with Chris Flavell beating Paul and collecting a very nice class trophy, Fyrth Cross going  exceptionally quickly (73.39)  in his beautiful Ensign and picking up 14 HSA points, Graham Cashmere collecting 13 points in his Davrian and Peter Hubbard in his newly repaired Marcos collecting  9 points behind Jonathon Plowe (Gilbern) and Geoff Stallard (TVR). I saw Peter’s old KBS and someone said they saw it spin but I missed that – I was probably wringing out my socks at the time. Must get some over-shoes. This is not intended to be a race report – if it were, it would be ridiculously biased towards MX5s and the people I know but I should say that Gary Thomas in his Force PT made Fastest Time of the Day with a 70.44 ahead of Simon Andrews and Bernard Kevill in their OMS, which they are still getting to grips with in the rain.

So, exceptionally wet.  I got lost on the way home, was stationary for a while on the M6 due to an accident further south, almost spun off the road in Wolverhampton but got home to find the Canadian Grand Prix on and delayed because of the rain over there so was able to watch Jenson pip Sebastian to the post. Wonderful stuff.

Someone (Paul I think) told me I had a brake light out but when I checked before the MOT (which was today – Wednesday) all the lights were working.  Maybe the water got into the wiring.  It failed though – on wiper blades. Now this I find odd because at Curborough I would have said that of all the parts on that car they were the ones that worked best.

The next HSA round is at Mallory on Saturday but I’m missing this (at about £100 a go I can’t afford to do them all) and I’ll be out next  at Prescott on 25/26 June.  It was at Prescott that I crashed last year, but I’m looking forward to this year’s event where there’ll be a good turnout in the HSA MX5 class – Nick Mugglestone, Ken Morris,  Tony Thomas and me with Alan Mugglestone and Paul Webster in their MX5s in other classes.

Wiscombe Park 21 and 22 May 2011

What a fantastic weekend I have just had in Devon. Two one-day events, back to back, organised super efficiently as usual by the Woolbridge Motor Club with results on their website and in my inbox even before I got home.  Well done Pam!

MX-5 drivers Alan Mugglestone, Nigel Hodson, Paul Webster, Dennis Cooper, Bryan Hope.
MX-5 drivers Alan Mugglestone, Nigel Hodson, Paul Webster, Dennis Cooper, Bryan Hope.

Both events were part of the HSA championship and there was a good turnout from the MX-5 camp, though unfortunately last year’s HSA Champion, Tony Thomas, had to miss the event (as he had to miss Shelsley) due to his father being ill.  Nevertheless there were five HSA Mx-5 drivers –  myself, Nick Mugglestone and Nigel Hodson from class A2.1, Alan Mugglestone from class A2 and Paul Webster in Stripey in Class C2 (Modified Production).  We were joined on the Saturday by Dennis Cooper, whom we met at Werrington recently,  in his 1600cc Mk1 (like mine) and Bryan Hope from nearby Seaton in his 1800cc Mk 1 in which he was particularly fast. Dennis belongs to the BDMC  and Bryan the Woolbridge club.

Nick Mugglestone
Nick Mugglestone

The HSA MX-5 (A2.1) class record was 53.20 secs and was set in 2008 by David Jones. I came to Wiscombe last year with Tony Thomas and neither of us could crack it then, but on Saturday in my final run I sliced 7/100ths off it.  As usual the MX-5 field contained a wide variety of cars developed to different degrees and complying to various regulations.  Alan and Paul were streets ahead with sub 49 second times but for the first time I seemed to be ahead of Nick throughout the day and thought it just might be the day when I could beat him (though Nigel was slightly faster than both of us in the first three runs).  When I saw the time for my final time was 53.13 I thought I had done it, but Nick finally got it right and knocked over a second off that time recording a 52.05 and Nigel must have a bit peeved as his final run was one hundredths slower than his third at 53.36.  Still it was a good result for Nick and I as we both scored 12 points for beating the previous class record and he got five and I a four for class position.

On Sunday we returned to do battle. Well, I returned as I had stayed at friends in nearby Whimple but others like Dennis and Paul slept in the back of their vans. I was determined to beat Nick’s new class record and I walked up the hill first thing looking at every corner and wondering where I could save time.

Anyway, my first run of the day was certainly the most pleasurable (though not the fastest). I got out at the top and went over to watch the others coming around Martini when Fran Montignani ran over to me a gave me a hug.  She had come to support Tim Rees (who, I discover,  is [amongst other things] a singer – hear this). I do like it when Tim Rees competes! We need a little glamour in the paddock – though from what I gather Fran has ambitions behind the wheel too.  Where am I going with this? Back to the plot – that first run was a 57.95 – completely off the pace, but I had been experimenting with different gears, lower tyre pressures and different lines so wasn’t unduly concerned.

MX-5 drivers - Paul, Nick and Tim
MX-5 drivers – Paul, Nick and Tim

Tim had competed at Wiscombe the previous weekend and had beaten my 2010 time (54.63) by over 4 tenths in his very standard looking Mk2 1800.  I can see he’s struggling to decide whether to start modifying it or not. It’s an immaculate  car that he uses every day and to butcher it for the sake of tenths of seconds on the odd weekend may not make much sense, but it’s like a drug and I think he’s hooked so it will be interesting to see what he decides.

Wiscombe Park is a beautiful place – the hill being the drive to a country house which is set in its own park and I just love the names of the various course features. From the start you head briefly downhill and over a little stone bridge, turn left at Wis Corner head up Wis Straight over Bunny’s Leap through the Gate by the huge Rhododendron bush, up through Esses One and Esses Two under the trees, around Sawbench hairpin (on which I spun on the Saturday) along Castle Straight and around the incredibly steep and tight Martini hairpin to the finish.

After lunch I put in a great run and got the class record off Nick with a time of 51.81, as although he improved his Saturday’s time he only managed a 52.04.  I was delighted with my time as I knew it had not been an ‘easy’ record to beat. Paul was also pretty pleased as he recorded a 47.83 beating not only Alan (admittedly in a different class) but the previous HSA C2 class record set by Simon Andrews in his MGTF Cup.

Other HSA people at Wiscombe that I knew were Fyrth Crosse in his immaculate and historic Formula 3 Ensign and Jonathan Plowe in his classic Gilbern.  When Jonathan saw my time he said it spurred him on to be a little braver through the Esses  and he was rewarded with a 50.29 which now stands as the Class V record.

I arrived at Wiscombe on Sunday with no paraphernalia – no tools, no clothes, no food – as I needed to leave the place immediatley after my fourth run and drive back to Staffordshire rather than return down the hill and have to wait till the end of the meeting.  So after my fourth run I got out and looked at the paper printout at Martini. 53 seconds! I couldn’t understand why as it all felt pretty hectic and brave to me, but sometimes those ragged runs are slower than smoother ones so I accepted it. Another driver looking over my shoulder was saying something about his time being missing, but then I saw Nick coming up the hill and heard his time over the Tannoy – 50.72.  Well, we’d both beaten his Saturday class record but once again he’d got the points and the class record. Still I was very pleased with my performance and when I got home (three hours more driving in that little MX-5!) there were the results on the website – there had been a mistake on the paper printout and my final time was 51.39. Still second but another PB.

Dennis also had a good weekend, finally getting below 54 (it was his Joker’s round in his championship so I think good points for him), Alan finished with a best of 49.37, which is still a little off Matt Carter’s S2000 time of 48.52 – but he is in an MX-5!  Paul, as mentioned, got his class record, Bryan put in a 51.79 in his standard looking car which is pretty amazing, Nigel improved all weekend and almost cracked the 53 second barrier (he got 53.01) and Tim must be pleased with his 53.58 in the car he goes to work in.

And that’s it until the next time.  I guess we’re all looking at how we can improve things – for me it’s working out how to get cold air into my induction system without falling foul of the eligibility scrutineer.

Oh, one last thing – as I was psyching myself up for my final run – helmet on, strapped in etc, when I saw I was not alone. A bee was buzzing about in the back of the car. I’m not freaked about bees or wasps but I thought it might be a bit of a distraction through the Esses if it decided to take a wander up to the front so I got out and was trying to shoo it out when a couple with a little dog came by and took over.  They got rid of the bee and said they read this blog and are thinking of competing themselves. I was a bit rushed so couldn’t stop and chat and never came back down the hill. If you’re reading this, thanks for your help – drop us an email – bobjacqs[AT]

Lots more photos on my Facebook site – here.

Sprint at MIRA

Took part in a Midland Automobile Club sprint today at M.I.R.A. (Motor Industry Research Association) near Nuneaton. It was a chilly, windy day but the rain held off at least until after my runs.

No cameras are allowed at MIRA, (no spectators either) for fear that we will leak news of a new model that’s there testing – and mobile phones had to be stickered as you can see. So, apologies for the lack of photos this week.

There were only two MX5s – myself and Tony Thomas (who holds the class record (61.48). My previous best time was 65.05 last year and I was pleased to better that with 63.40 and Tony also bettered his previous best with a new class record in his 2 litre Mk 3 of 60.72. I do find it frustrating though as I’m a slow learner of tracks and four runs a year isn’t enough for me to really get to grips with the place, but it’s the same for everyone so I can’t really complain.

While spectating after my first timed run I witnessed one of the worst accidents I’ve seen in hillclimbing and sprints. Sure there have been a few big accidents at events I have attended but this one happened right in front of me.

Darren Spooner carried a lot of speed through turn two and got out of shape entering the straight that leads down to the control tower. His car, a Peugeot 309, left the track, took to the grass and headed down towards the control tower at great speed. There is a timing display on a service road in front of the tower and his car careered into this, hit the road, flipped into the air and rolled, landing the right way up. Thankfully the driver’s door opened and Darren got out unharmed. The car appeared to be a write-off and if it had been left hand drive he might not have been so lucky as the windscreen popped out in the roll and the A pillar on the left hand side collapsed. He had a rollover bar but not a full cage. Now I understand why Paul Webster fitted a full cage into his MX5.  Mira seems to be unforgiving if you get onto the grass – this is where John Gallagher rolled his MX5 in 2009.

Next week – Wiscombe Park in Devon with no fewer than eight MX5s entered. Should be fun.

Werrington Park Hillclimb 2011 (2)

Well, I was supposed to be racing this weekend at Curborough but BARC cancelled due to lack of numbers. I tried to get into Shelsley but was told that the programme had been sent to the printers so I was too late. So I spent the afternoon sitting outside a pub in Bewdley watching the boats on the Severn. Very pleasant.

Here are a couple of videos from last weekend.  The first, a bit of a curiosity perhaps, shows what happens after you cross the line. You reverse down a lane by the side of the church and then drive down the hill in reverse order to the order you went up the hill.   You see far more on the way down.  The second video was kindly sent to me by Tim Rees whom I met last weekend at his first hill climb and was taken by Fran Montignani. Thanks, Fran 🙂

Werrington Park Hillclimb 2011

MX5 and new tent

What a great little car this Mazda is! I’ve just returned from a 450 mile round trip to Cornwall where I took part in the Werrington Hillclimb organised by the Plymouth Motor Club and it never missed a beat. Four and half hours each way and thrashed up the hill seven times and it never complains or demands any tinkering with at all and I don’t think you could have more fun in a Ferrari!

The house near the top of the hill at Werrington Park

This two day event comprised two separate events with two practice runs on each day followed, after lunch, by two competitive runs. Plymouth Motor Club had divided the roadgoing series production classes into four classes:
A1 up to 1400 cc
A2 1400 to 1800 cc
A3 1800 to 2600 cc
A4 over 2600 cc.
This split the MX5s up though we all ran in the same batch and were parked near each other in the paddock. Unusually there were more Mk2s than Mk1s and I guess as time goes on we’ll see fewer people choosing to race  the old Mk1 1600 like mine.

At Werrington we saw five MX5s: Dennis Cooper in his first hillclimb in a Mk 1 1600. My 1990 1600 cc Mk1. Nigel Hodson in his 1800 cc Mk2 Sport complete with leather seats and ‘wooden’ dash (and no rollover bar – brave man!). Paul Webster with his wolf in sheep’s clothing – Stripey
and Tim Rees (on Sunday only) in a very smart and unmodified Mk 2.5 1800. The cars were all in various states of tune and we all had our own personal targets and people to beat. For me it was to be the fastest MX5 after Paul and to beat Neil Catling’s Lotus Elise (which I foolishly thought I had a chance of doing after practice, but didn’t get near in the end).

Nigel Hodson with his MX-5 Mk2 Sport
Nigel Hodson with his MX-5 Mk2 Sport
Dennis Cooper with his 1600 cc Mk1
Dennis Cooper with his 1600 cc Mk1
Tim Rees with girlfriend Fran and 1800cc MX-5 Mk 2.5
Tim Rees with girlfriend Fran and 1800 cc Mk 2.5

The Werrington Park hill is pretty scary with a narrow gap over a covered cattle grid approached over a brow and at a slight angle, a 90 degree left with no real run off (though there is an escape road to the right, which Fyrth Crosse had to take in his Ensign) and then a very narrow windy section under trees with stone walls close on both sides.

The cattle grid.

The timing equipment failed on Saturday morning so no one got a timed first practice but in the second practice I recorded a time of 51.83 seconds which was encouragingly close to Paul’s practice time. However, I didn’t better this in the afternoon. While queuing for my first competition run it started to drizzle and I was too cautious, braked far too early for the 90 degree left and only managed a 52.69.

The organisation of the event was, how shall we say, ‘relaxed’ and we didn’t get going until after ten in the morning. Maybe this delay was caused by the organisers trying to fix the timing equipment (we were never told) but the long and the short of it was that the timing equipment played up all day and the meeting was halted prematurely at 5pm and we didn’t get a second run. There were lots of very disgruntled drivers in the paddock. I might have been more annoyed if I had travelled all that way and was not staying for the Sunday, but at least I had some more runs to look forward to. Paul Webster also gave me some good news – I had beaten the previous HSA MX5 class record (53.15) and so would get a few extra championship points for that.

The only water supply.
Toilet facilities

The paperwork for the event did say that camping was permitted but that facilities were basic. This was indeed true. A stand pipe and portaloos. On Saturday night I had to make a run for it and find a nice warm pub in Launceston. As usual there was range of accommodation in the paddock – from little one man tents like mine up to luxurious caravans and super motor homes with rooms that slide out of their sides. I had a new larger tent, Paul had a new van conversion with cooker and bed, but the person who stole the show was Mathew Searle with his tiny teardrop caravan which he towed with his competition car, a VW Lupo turbo diesel.

Matthew Searle with race car and teardrop caravan.
Matthew Searle's race car and teardrop caravan.

On Sunday I was encouraged by two practice runs under 51 seconds (50.47, 50.65) but the timing results were showing a speed at the speed trap of about 20 mph while others who were recording a similar time were going through the trap at over 40. The trap is positioned at a very slow part of the hill just after a bend and I thought I might be taking it completely wrong. Paul and I watched one of my in-car videos and couldn’t see a problem and we concluded there was something wrong with this data all weekend. Now, looking at other people’s results, I’m sure this was the case.

After lunch Tim Rees in his first hillclimb, in a standard 1800, beat me with a sub 50 second time, which was an excellent result and was just the kick in the pants I needed to brake later wherever possible in my second run and I finished with a very pleasing 48.58. Unfortunately for Tim it started raining more heavily while he was waiting on the line and he had to be more cautious on his second run.  Here’s a video of my fastest run.

So, another good weekend’s hillclimbing.  Next week I’m not doing the HSA two day round at Shelsley but have opted to do the BARC sprint at Curborough on the Saturday instead. My next HSA event will be Wiscombe Park  on the 21st May.

More photos on my Facebook site.  See here.

Professional photos from Teltphotography

Official results (when published) should be here.

Loton Park 24 April 2011 (2)

There are some excellent photos of Loton on the Rhodopsin Photography website and I had to get the one of me with two wheels off at Fallow.

(click images below for better quality larger pics)

Going off at Fallow.

A couple of people have emailed to ask about how I got the split times I mentioned in my last post.  These came from the Resultsman website. This is a great free service which is live!  Also, I have an Android smart phone and there is a free app available from the Market (App Store) which is absolutely brilliant.

Resultsman on Android Smartphone
Resultsman on Android Smartphone

Tomorrow is a big day. I’m not thinking of the Royal Wedding  but more importantly the long drive down to Cornwall to compete in the Suburu WRC Spares Werrington Park Hillclimb organised by the Plymouth Motor Club on Saturday and Sunday.  It’s just over 200 miles from Kinver and could be a horrible journey if everyone else decides to head down there too after the wedding for the long bank holiday weekend, but there’s no point in leaving too early as I don’t think there’ll be much to do there when I get there.

In preparation for the journey I’ve fitted a grill to the front of the Mazda as previously I had the radiator exposed and I’ve also reduced what I put in the boot to make more room for camping gear.  I’ve replaced the spare wheel with a can of gunk and the trolley jack with the standard MX5 one and put those two items and a selection of tools into a soft laptop bag instead of my toolbox.  I now have masses of room for tent, sleeping bag and clothes. In fact so much extra room I’m not sure what to do with it.

Replaced all on the left with the stuff on the right.

Finmere 1 April 2011

Mazda on Track event at Finmere.

Took the day off today to do a Mazda On Track event at Finmere Aerodrome where I had an hour’s tuition with Steve Lewis. Very interesting.

Main thing we did was to induce oversteer and understeer in fast corners and get out of there fast with throttle control.  I tended to over correct with the steering wheel so it was interesting to try and balance things on the throttle.  Could be the answer to my Curborough woes. The other thing I do wrong is not look far enough ahead.  Other things to come out of the lesson was that I sit too far back (Stirling  Moss style) – Steve had me move the seat forward and bend my arms more and my steering wheel is too big (which I already knew but am too mean to change).

I left Finmere with no power steering. Not sure why yet –  oil level looked OK and belts were OK. I think it broke as were we doing doughnuts. Maybe the oil got too hot?  It was still not working when I got home. Anyway, well worth it.


Curborough Sprint 27 March 2011

Curborough spectators
Quite a crowd came to watch.

This was my first sprint of the year  – a Shenstone & District Car Club members’ sprint. There were no classes and no awards but there were six timed runs and although it was cold and overcast it didn’t rain so we could all try as hard as we liked. I tried pretty hard but just could not break that elusive 40 second barrier and didn’t even beat my personal best of 40.17 set on my sloppy old suspension. Very annoying.  Since changing my coilovers the car has a tendency to oversteer and I lose time coming out of the final corner.  Anyway, apart from that it was an enjoyable day and I met up again with Alan and Nick Mugglestone who have been busy over the winter and seem to have a car (and the skills) to break all MX5 class records in 2011. It will certainly be interesting with Nick head to head with Tony Thomas in his two litre Mk 3 and Alan thinking of putting slicks on for his runs and having a bit of fun with Paul Webster in class C2. All good fun !  There was a third MX5 at Curborough driven by Ken Christopher a Curborough regular. While Ken’s car was absolutely bog standard, he does have a couple of aftermarket hips under his racing overalls.  Ken managed a time of 46.75 without any fiddling with his car or with tyre pressures. Not bad when you consider he is eighty-one years of age. It was a privilege to meet him.

The fastest time of the day was John Bradburn in a 3.5 litre Gould GR55  with 27.49 seconds.  Alan did a 37.61, Nick a 38.23 and I managed a 40.22. All other results here:

My next event is Loton Park on 24th April – an HSA championship event.

And here are a few photos.

Nick, Alan and Ken - 20 something to 80 something.
Nick changing springs between runs.
Alan and Nick's engine.
Another shot of the little Mazda twin cam engine.

More photos –

Professional photos – of all cars on all runs can be found at Rhodospin Photography’s website, here: S&DCC Spring Sprint 2011 .

Shelsley Walsh – 19 Sept 2010


By the time I got to Shelsley the rain had stopped. However,  the track in the morning practice runs was damp and even after lunch it was slightly slippery, especially through the esses.      

Peter Hubbard in his Marcos at bottom 'S'.


My performance was nothing to write home about – a best time of 44.21, which was not as good as my 3rd May  time of 43.56 – but it was good fun hanging about the paddock and chatting with some of the other competitors. In the MX5 class of the HSA championship there was only myself and Paul Webster, but with a damp track Paul was unable to beat the class record (Tony Thomas’s 41.65) and had to settle for eight points for his 41.70.  Five hundredths of a second too slow!     



There was a third MX5 at Shelsley and this was the distinctive black and pink car known as Raceworx in MX5 circles (see Raceworx ).  This was driven by a friend of mine, Greg Dickens, from Phoenix Fives, the West Midlands MX5 group.  Greg had entered a single seater but had blown the engine and so swapped his entry at the last minute for Raceworx which he co-owns with some other Phoenix Fives members to do track days.  It was Greg’s first hill climb and he probably surprised himself by posted the fastest MX5 time – 40.20. It will be interesting if next year Greg joins the HSA championship.     

Greg - pleased with his first hill climb.


Tony Thomas wasn’t at Shelsley, having opted to do Thoresby Park on the Saturday, but must have been nervously waiting to hear how Simon Andrews, his main challenger in the HSA championship, got on.  In fact it was a bad weekend for Simon as he had gearbox (or gear selection?) problems on his second practice run in his MG TF and had to borrow his son Michael’s car for the competition runs. So no HSA points for him.  A good result for Michael though as he beat his dad by 0.48 sec. I guess Bernard, whom Simon shares the MG with, had to settle for spectating.     

Simon borrowing Michael's Peugeot.


Someone else who had a good weekend was Martin Garner who we met at Harewood when he competed for the first time. Shelsley was his second event (I think) and he turned in a very respectable time of 41.98 in his stripped out Peugeot 106.     

Martin with his Peugeot 106


Jonathan Plowe and Peter Hubbard were parked next to each other in the paddock – Gilbern and Marcos both with 3.1 litre V6s.  Their class was a target time handicap for pre-1976 cars and both walked away with class awards; Jonathan, who was faster with a 39.92 time, picking up 2nd in class and Peter with the 3rd place.  I love that Marcos and have a disproportionate number of pictures of it.  Jonathan also picked up a useful 9 HSA points putting him one point ahead of me.     

Jonathan and Peter with their V6s.


So after that round, I continue to slide down the championship – now to 18th with 51 points, Tony stays on top with 82 and Simon is just three points behind. Paul increases his tally to 64 and the top ten are within 20 points of each other. HSA results here –     

Anyway, that was my Shelsley. Once again apologies if you came to this blog looking for a rounded report of happenings – as usual it is a very biased view from my little corner of the paddock. Of course elsewhere there were great dramas, great drives, wonderful rare and historic race cars, single seaters and Ferraris, but I have a little blue Mazda and don’t compete with them 😉      

Next week it’s Loton Park and I see the Mugglestones will be there. Will be fun! 

More photos here –