Pandamonium at Prescott – Follow up Video

Further to yesterday’s post, here’s a video of  me in the Fiat Panda 100HP Pandamonium taken by Craig Johnston, which he has kindly given me permission to use. I’m not proud so if you have suggestions as to how I can do it quicker, let me know.

If you have never been to Prescott, this is the bottom half of the course, which is mainly flat. It’s 1127 yards long and rises over 200 feet. What you see here is the section from Orchard, around Ettore’s Bend and on up to Pardon hairpin.

Here’s a map from yesterday’s programme.  (You may need to click on it to enlarge it.)

Pandamonium at Prescott – 26 May 2018

I’ve just got back from Prescott where I had an entry in the Italian Marques invitation class at La Vie en Bleu, the Bugatti Owner’s Club annual celebration of French automobiles which this year incorporated  La Vita Rossa to include Italian marques. This Panda opens doors!

I forgot to mention in my write up of the sprint at LLandow that when I arrived I had a big ‘thumbs up’ from one of the organisers, who came over and explained that he used to have Fiat Panda 100HP and had been to Le Mans in it. He loved it.  He also pointed out that mine is a limited edition of the already rare 100HP,  identifiable by its red brake calipers, side stripes and colour-coded wing mirrors, though he could not remember what it was called.  The same thing happened this morning, a couple of people came over to talk and said they were members of the 100HP club and mine was a special edition called a Pandamonium.  I like the fact that I have a limited edition 100HP and a limited edition GT86; I know how many Giallos were made – 86. I wonder how many Pandamoniums there are.

Anyway, back to the hillcllimb. The day started very cold, blustery, damp and misty.  I was expecting rain not only because it is a bank holiday weekend but because it rained yesterday and the forecast for today said rain was likely. So yesterday I changed my wheels and tyres. In the rain.  I took off the R888Rs, which are really road legal track tyres, and put on the other set which Laurence included when I bought the car off him.  In fact the set comprises two Proxes T1-Rss and two Avon ZV3s. I put the Proxes on the front for no other reason than I had started before I realised they weren’t all the same. I can’t say they appeared much better in the wet than the R888Rs though. Standing water would probably be the test, but I never saw any.

It was so misty at Prescott this morning that the marshals could not see between marshal posts at the top of the hill which made signalling difficult and racing dangerous. So we waited for the mist to clear. It didn’t so I wandered around videoing some of the cars. There were about 180 in the paddock and hundreds more in the spectators car park. The following video is just a few minutes in my corner of the paddock…

Eventually the organisers decided to ditch the first practice runs but to offer everyone a slow convoy run instead.  By the time the mist had cleared and we could take our proper second practice runs, it was almost midday and the marshals agreed to forego their lunch break and run straight into the timed competition runs.

The track on my practice run was damp and I did a time of 62.45 which I was fairly happy with for a first run up Prescott in a front wheel drive car.  It understeers a lot and is totally different to the MX5, Formula Ford, Lotus and GT86.  By the time I had my first competition run  (I was number 172, right at the end of the running order of 182 cars), the mist had gone, the track was dry and the sun way shining. England is a weird place.  I improved my time to 60.44 and regretted having changed the tyres yesterday. Those track tyres would have been perfect. Then, talking to the guys from the 100HP club who had been watching me, I decided that on my third and final run I would carry more speed into Pardon Hairpin and go around in second gear rather than first. It was worth the try but ultimately proved slower at 61.63. However, I was happy with 60.44 and am looking forward to the HSA rounds at Prescott on 23 and 24 June (if i get entries of course).

Here are some photos.

Prescott MistThis was the mist at the bottom of the hill.

Who doesn’t like Abarths?

This was early on before all the spectators arrived and the music and dancing girls started. Prescott does know how to put on a good show.

Four very different cars. How did that Aston get parked there amongst the Italians? Actually five very different cars as I’ve just noticed my 100HP in the background.Lancia I think.  Interesting Italian machinery was popping up everywhere.

As usual at Prescott there were things for sale. Shame about the weather.

These were in the car park. Love them both. I used to pass a Lancia Fulvia Sport (I think some people call them Zagatos?) on my walk to school many moons ago and always fancied one. Fiat Coupes are also on that wish list. A two litre turbo would be nice.

Also in the car park… another 100HP. A bit tidier than mine.

And another and two nice Series 1 Pandas. I was to meet the owners of these later.

There were plenty of Ferraris to drool over. This particular one was my favourite. This was in the spectators’ car park.

Looking at these three, I’d choose the Alfa over the Maserati or McLaren any day. Not only has it got soul, it is driveable.

And it’s pretty.


When do you ever see a Bugatti? And then there are two! The blue one is a new 1,479 bhp Chiron and the other is one of those old Veyrons.

The first Ferrari La Ferrari I’ve ever seen. Astonishing engineering and design.

A nice atmospheric shot of my friend Jonathan Plowe in his Fiat Abarth X19 Prototype waiting to go to the start line.

It was great to meet these Panda HP100 enthusiasts and I’m looking forward to seeing some of their photos.

Finally, something not Italian. A 1928 mid-engined Austin 7 special. There are many remarkable things about this car, but for me the most remarkable is the positioning of the fuel tank above the engine and behind the driver’s head.

I’m now having a break from hillclimbing and sprinting as next weekend we’re off to Italy in the Toyota GT86. I don’t suppose we’ll see as many exotic Italian supercars over there as in Gloucester today.



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 😉

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 🙂

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 2003–2012 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!