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 🙂

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.

Croft 14 May 2017

20170514_082835Croft circuit in North Yorkshire, famous these days for hosting a round of the British Touring Car Championship, was the venue for Round 2 of this year’s Toyota Sprint Series.

I drove the Giallo up there on Saturday and met with others from the TSS and
Toyota GT86 & Subaru BRZ Drivers Club at a nearby Premier Inn where we all stayed the night. I must say that the  GT86 & BRZ Drivers Club is an exceptionally friendly and welcoming group of people and we had a good afternoon talking cars in the bar before going through to dinner in the restaurant. This meetup ahead of events is apparently a traditional thing which happens before every event. I like it.

Before this weekend I had thought that the Toyota Sprint Series was a relatively new championship, so was quite surprised to learn it has been running for ten years.  All sorts of Toyotas take part including  more than one Yaris (I have no idea what the plural is) and this weekend a Prius, and in Class X. for non Toyota cars, there was an electric Nissan Leaf. But the biggest class is Class N1 for GT86s and BRZs.

It was my first visit to Croft and even allowing for the fact that my car is completely standard and on Michelin Primacy rubber, I was very slow. Still, it was a real joy to drive a fast flowing circuit with high speed bends. So different to hillclimbs and circuits like Llandow and Curborough with which I am more familiar.

Like Round 1, the event was excellent value for money with two sighting laps in convoy, two practice runs and eight competition runs. And then at the end of the day we were allowed some fun runs and to take a passenger and  Alec Keeler and Kevin Atkins kindly invited to me to sit in with them for a few laps. It was a real wake up call! I had been braking far too early for the first corner, taking the wrong line around Hawthorne and not taking Barcroft of Sunny flat.  It also made me realise just how well these GT86s/BRZs handle (and how well others can drive). Now I want to do it all again, but it was a long drive up to Croft from Kinver and I’m committed to other events this year so I guess it will have to wait until TSS 2018.


Here are some more photos.


Lauren and Chengyi look for a crack in Chengyi’s exhaust. Axle stands were soon rushed to the scene.


I include this photo for Ken Morris who has a similar MX5 Merlot. It was also a round of the Mazda Sprint Series.


My car behind Stuart’s Aero. The compressor and tyre pressure gauge by my front wheel were in constant use as I picked up a slow puncture on my first timed run.  Before the start of one of the runs there was a delay and I jumped the queue to get to the front, worried that if I didn’t, the tyre would lose too much air. I have no idea what everyone thought I was doing.

My journey home was about four hours but I had to stop every half an hour to re-inflate the tyre. This was a bit of a pain, but the upside was that I got to see this place in a service station just south of Darrington on the A1. I hope someone’s slapped a preservation order on that one!


This morning the tyre was completely flat so I inflated it again and took it to National Tyres. Unrepairable apparently. Holed near the sidewall.  This presented me with a dilemma because I didn’t really want to buy another Primacy but had intended to get wider wheels before buying a better set of tyres. I know someone in the club will probably say they have a spare Primacy at the back of the their garage, but I have no time to sort things out and am racing on Saturday at Loton Park, so decided to get four new Yokohama Advan Sports for the stock 7 inch wheels.

The Italian word for yellow is ‘giallo’, which is what my limited edition GT86 is called. Eight-six were produced and you hardly ever see more than two together, so when two others showed up to spectate we got them together and Adam Delaney, who owns the one on the far left, took a picture.


The one on the right belongs to Duncan and had traveled down from Edinburgh. His engine bay was quite impressive.


Adam also took a few photos of me on track…


Once again I picked up a trophy. First in class and only me in Class N2. Can’t go wrong 🙂 However, with the Yokohamas I will be in Class N1 next time and probably last, so I’ll make the most of this one.


My next event is this weekend at Loton Park where I am surprised to find myself leading Class 2 of the Loton Championship! So different to Croft.  Then unfortunately I’ll have to miss round 3 of the TSS as we’re driving to Spain. That should scrub in those Yokos nicely.





Curborough 23 April 2017

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?



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?)

Blyton Park 2 April 2017

Not a bad photo of Adrian Smith in his GT86 that I snapped between my runs.


Last Sunday I competed in my first Toyota Sprint Series event, round one of the TSS 2017, at Blyton Park near Gainsborough.  It was a three hour drive north so I stayed in a hotel on Saturday night and arrived at the track at 7 a.m. on Sunday. For the last seven years I have been competing in MSA  events – events run under the auspices of the Motor Sports Association. This event was different as it was organised not by a motor club but by a commercial organisation (Javelin Track Days) and was an IOPD (International Organisation of Professional Drivers) event rather than an MSA one. The main difference from the competitors’ point of view was that it was not compulsory to wear race overalls or a helmet with a particular sticker on it – you simply had to wear long sleeves and any helmet and you did not need an expensive MSA race licence, you could buy a much cheaper IOPD licence on the day.

In the TSS there a number of classes for different Toyota models. For my GT86 there were four classes –

  • F1 – GT86 – Forced Induction – Modified Engine
  • F2 – GT86 – Forced Induction – Standard Engine
  • N1 – GT86 – Normally Aspirated – Modified
  • N2 – GT86 – Standard Car – Michelin Primacy Tyre

These are all ‘Street’ classes but there is also a ‘Pro Tuner’ class for tuner or heavily sponsored entries where the driver or car is at a professional level.

All cars (48 Toyotas) compete against each other on equal terms and also within their respective classes. I came 29th overall and first in my class. However, I was the only entry in class N2, all the others being in N1 or Pro Tuner.

Nice pic of me by Peter Downham

It was excellent value for money – £159 – for which we got two sighting laps, two untimed practice runs and eight timed runs. Well worth the drive up to Blyton and the other competitors, especially those in the GT86 class were very friendly and supportive. I’ll certainly be going back for more.

Here are some photos.

Adrian Smith in the Pro class was the overall winner in his GT86 with a time of 1:08.18.
Lauren Blighton won the NS1 class with a time of 1:15.92
2nd in Class N1-S – Tomas Vernier – only 500ths of a second behind Lauren in his left hooker.
Tim Huxley third in class
Kevin Atkins 4th 
Neal Shore 5th
Mike Anchor came 6th in N1-S
Alec Keeler  was in N2-S last year but in N1 now. I was disappointed not to beat his old class record.
Steve Gaunt got a late entry.
Mike Batty in the only GT86 Auto.
Stuart Tormey with his great looking GT86 Aero which he’s had since new.
Some old guy with a yellow car.

Talking of yellow cars, readers of my other blog, Cars On Streets, will be familiar with the story of the yellow car in the Cotswold village. My last post on that story was Yellow Car in which I said ” thought I might take a trip down there and park up near by in solidarity”. I never got round to it, but on Saturday hundreds of other yellow cars did just that. The funny thing is that when you watch the cavalcade of yellow pass by in the video below, you’ll see a single red car. What is it? A GT86!

Anyway, back to Blyton… Here are a few more pics –

Two very fast looking GT86s came to watch.
Not all Toyotas were GT86s.
It was also a round of the MX5 Sprint Championship.
Nice to get a trophy even if I was the only one in the class. I’ve thought about buying some decent tyres, swapping air filter and exhaust and moving into N1-S but I think I’ll stick in N2-S, save some money and hope some others will join me.

Next round is at Croft on 14th May but before that I have two more hill climbs at Loton Park on Easter Sunday and Monday.

I’m pleased I sold the Lotus and love this GT86. After Blyton I drove 3 hours back to Kinver and loved every minute of that drive. Great car 🙂

Blyton Park Track Day 19 March 2017

I did my first Javelin track day on Sunday at Blyton Park in Lincolnshire. It was an excellent event, very well run and the open pit lane format worked perfectly without causing long  queues to get out on track. In fact I did not queue up behind more than two other cars all day and was on track from 9.30 to 4.30 with breaks only to let the brakes and tyres cool down and to go and get more fuel. On the subject of fuel, on the 135 mile trip up from Kinver on mainly fast moving motorways I averaged 41 mpg. The average for the time on track was 11 mpg.

I paid for instruction from Tim, a qualified racing instructor and we concentrated on racing lines and trail braking, which I am not very good at, my normal technique being full on the throttle or full on the brakes, but I ended up considerably faster than before my lesson and I thought it was money well spent. This is all in preparation for the first round of the Toyota Sprint Series at Blyton in two weeks time.

The car lacks the power of the Elise but handles fantastically and gives me a lot of confidence. My aim this year is to improve my driving, take on the challenge of some faster circuits (as opposed to hill climbs) and to keep the costs down by using the same car for going to work, Tescos, holidays and competition. Also, in order to keep costs down even further I have entered the Standard Class in the Toyota Sprint Series which doesn’t allow any modifications at all. So, believe it or not I had to change the tyres to Michelin Primacys, which were fitted as standard when the car was new.  This is a disadvantage when entering the  Roadgoing Series Production class in MSA events, which allow List 1B tyres (like the Toyo R888s I had on my Elise last year) but the more I save on the car, the more money I have to enter events and I still plan to do local events at Loton Park and Curborough.

There were two other GT86s…



And here’s a quick look around from my area of the paddock…

(If you can’t see the embedded video, try this link )

My next outing is this weekend at Loton. Saturday is Members’ practice day and on Sunday it is the first event of the year.


Looking back on 2015

It’s a long wait until the new season.  Here are some photos from my blog this year to remind us what we’re missing.

It started on April 19/20 at Loton Park…


Then came Werrington in Cornwall on 2 and 3 of May and the bridge that was too narrow…

though we got there in the end…

Then came the broken engine mount at MIRA on 23 May.

By the 30 and 31 May we were in South Wales for a sprint at Pembrey.


On 14 June we were at another sprint, this time at Curborough with lots of Lotus.

We had a break in July and drove drown through France, over the Pyrenees and on to Spain…

We were back to South Wales and a sprint at Llandow on 18 July where I did a 360 degree spin right in front of the paddock.

Then onto the dam at Llys-y-Fran in Pemrokeshire on the 19th where my gear linkage broke…

It was all fixed and we were in Devon on 25 July at Wiscombe Park…

But the Sunday wasn’t so nice…

A wet Sunday

Back to Loton Park on 8 August…

and 9th August…

and back at Loton again at the end of the month  – 29 and 30 August – for some off roading…



Then it was off to Shelsley Walsh on 20 September…

I didn’t get an entry on 27 September at Loton but went to watch anyway. Here’s Sarah Bosworth smoking down to Triangle…

Went to watch again at Prescott on 4 October. Here’s Alan Goodwin.


Then came my last event of the year at Curborough on 10 October…


Can’t wait for 2016!

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
Gurston Down
Loton Park
Mallory Park
Shelsley Walsh
Thoresby Park
Ty Croes (Anglesey)
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…
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…
IMG_2409 IMG_2419
 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…
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…
That last photo is out of focus I know but the following one was more what I was aiming at…
Martin Jones in a Raw Phoenix.
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.
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.
Here’s another MX5. Mervyn Brake, probably with standard suspension.
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.
Here’s Wil Ker in his OMS CF09.
And here’s Richard Arrowsmith in a Force.
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!

Llandow 18 July 2015

bob llandow 2015

It was a very early start from Kinver to get to Llandow, in the Vale of Glamorgan South Wales, in time for scrutineering but probably easier, in retrospect, than going down the night before and camping.

Last year I concentrated on hillclimbs but this year I thought I’d do a few more sprints and I’m glad I did as I’ve enjoyed the  challenge at both Llandow and Pembrey of longer faster circuits.

The event (round 23 of the HSA Championship) was organised by the British Automobile Racing Club (Wales) and, as at Pembrey, I was entered in a class called ‘Road Going Lotus Elise and Elise Derived Cars’ rather than the more usual ‘Roadgoing up to Two Litre’ class. I was happy to  improve my times throughout the day (best of 89.42) but I was no match for Elen Worthington or of course Simon Hutchings in his turbocharged VX220. However, I was also slightly disappointed not to have beaten Andy Mitchelmore’s HSA record of 89.05, though so was he!  I think for me to improve on circuits I need more circuit time so may look at some ‘Lotus on Track’ track days when this season is over.  Doing four timed runs at a Sprint when you don’t know the circuit just isn’t enough time to learn the best lines and braking points.

Me at the start with Andy in his Elise S2 behind.
Me at the start with Andy in his Elise S2 behind.
Elen with her very well presented and fast Elise S1.
Elen with her very well presented and fast Elise S1.


Simon Hutchings coming around the Bus Stop in his VX220
Simon Hutchings coming around the Bus Stop in his VX220
Andy Mitchelmore in his Lotus Elise 111S
Andy Mitchelmore in his Lotus Elise 111S

I’ll post some more photos on the HSA Facebook page in due course.

After Llandow we loaded the Elise onto the trailer and headed west to Llys-y-Fran near Haverfordwest. But that’s another story.


Curborough 14 June 2015

This will be a first… I spilt a can of Coke over my laptop and it is temporarily out of commission so I will attempt to do this on an iPad…

Yesterday was the Graham Hill Sprint at Curborough organised by the Owen Motor Club and round 17 of the HSA Championship.  I’ve been to Curborough quite a few times and I think this was my fifth Graham Hill Sprint but I had never driven the figure of eight course which was the one we ran on on Sunday. Fantastic! Much more interesting than a double lapped or a normal Curborough. I was in a special Lotus class and came 3rd out of 6 to Leonard and Scott Bennett in their shared Elise S1. I might have improved on my best time of 66.33 but over did it and almost span coming out of Fradley on lap one of my final run. Reminiscent of Pembrey!

Here are a couple of pics.

You don’t often see this sort of thing at Curborough! John Burt in his ex-Niki Lauda BRM P160 V12 F1 car rounding the mole hill.

Me queuing up to go to the start. (Photo courtesy of Chris Falcon).

Lots more photos on the HSA Facebook site, but especially for Michael, who fears FB more than his engine seizing, here are a few of them… 

And finally… Michael Tindale in his Mk 2 Mazda MX5.

I’m now taking a month’s break from the Championship and heading off on a 3600km drive to Spain and back with Jacqui in her S2000. Might blog some car related stuff here. Maybe.

Pembrey 30 and 31 May 2015


I don’t normally do that many sprints – (except for Curborough and Thoresby Park) –  concentrating instead on hillclimbs, but I decided to enter the two sprints organised by British Automobile Racing Club (Wales) at Pembrey this weekend to see if I should reassess my preference.  I loved it!  I was quicker than I thought I would be and we were made to feel very welcome, met some great people and had a very sociable weekend.

Circuit paddocks are not as picturesque as hillclimb venues but so much more convenient, allowing us to pitch the tent next to the cars and trailer.
Flying the HSA flag outside the tent. On Saturday night it blew a gale and we thought the tent might collapse. Luckily it just leaked.

We arrived early evening on Friday and unloaded the trailer in the paddock next to a very smart covered trailer bearing the words Lotus Sport, and pitched our tent on the grass in front of the car. No one else was about so we headed off to find food (local Indian restaurant).   The next day we discovered the Lotus Sport transporter contained a Davrian as Elen Worthington’s Elise wasn’t ready and she was sharing Roger Dowdon’s Davrian Mk6. Elen and Simon kindly invited us to join them and about a dozen or so other competitors for a meal at the Red Lion in Llandyfaelog on the Saturday night which was excellent.  One of things I like about the HSA championship is you get to travel around the country, see different places and meet different people. The Red Lion was a great place with good food, friendly staff and with the added bonus of live entertainment in the form of impromptu Welsh singing. Here are a couple of songs and much clinking of glasses I recorded on my phone.

The Davrian – a Welsh car for a Welsh circuit.

BARC (Wales) have a separate class for Lotus Elises  with no class division on engine size, so without Elen there were five of us including a Turbocharged VX220 and a turbocharged 2-11.  Pembrey is a very fast, open circuit and it took me a while to learn the lines and gears but over the weekend (we had four runs per day) I gradually got to grips with it and was quite pleased with my times, improving throughout the weekend to get a second in class on the Sunday behind Simon Hutchings’ VX220.  With a few more runs I’m sure I could have got my times down to the 125 mark but I blew it on my last run with a 360 degree spin exiting Dibeni.

144.66 (wet)
151.39 (spun coming out of Dibeni)

 These were rounds 13 and 14 of the HSA Championship and I collected 16 very useful points on each day.  It was also a round of the British Sprint Championship, but I must confess that without commentary or a programme I have no idea what happened there.

The Lotus 2-11. The first I’ve seen in the flesh.
Vauxhall VX220 Turbo.
Ben’s Elise S2
Andy Mitchmore’s Elise S2
Jacqui sat in the Elise at Werrington. She drove it round the paddock at Pembrey. What next?


It was good to meet regular blog reader Daniel Owen at Pembrey. Here he is with his 1600cc Honda V-TEC powered Mini.

MIRA 23 May 2015

No photos are allowed at MIRA (the Motor Industry Research Association) where the Midland Automobile Club held a sprint last Saturday. So no pics of the competition in this blog entry.  This was round 12 of the HSA championship and in my class (A2) there was just me and Roger Fish in his Honda s2000, although 23 of us from the HSA entered.

On my first practice run, just after the start, there was an almighty bang from the back of my Lotus as I changed into second and the noise continued to accompany gear changes for the rest of the run.  I also experienced fuel starvation on the long sweeping left hander before the straight and on the left hander after the second straight.  The fuel issue was easily sorted by filling up the tank (though I did not think of this until lunchtime) but the banging noise was a broken oil filled engine mount.

After much discussion with fellow competitors as to whether I should take further runs (with some people saying no way and a few others saying it would be OK if I was gentle on he gear changes) I decided to risk it.  In the end Roger beat me and the existing HSA class record (set by another S2000) and I came away with 13 points being within 1.25% of the existing record – 58.63 compared with the previous record of 58.52. So close!

Here are the broken parts which were replaced by Aldon Automotive today, so I will still be able to do Pembrey this weekend.

engine mount 2