Loton Park Easter Monday 2014

What a change in the weather!  Easter Monday was sometimes overcast but often surprisingly sunny and most importantly dry all day.

This was round 3 of the HSA championship (or to give it its official title, the SBD Motorsport HSA Speed Championship) and my first HSA event of the season. However, overnight I decided definitely to sell the Van Diemen and return to a roadgoing class.   I just hope I can do some deals quickly enough to score some decent points in another class.

There were about a dozen HSA members at Loton and quite a few more people who I always think of as HSA but who for various reasons haven’t signed up this year. Most often the reasons are that the class is undersubscribed or that they are are unsure how many events they will be doing due to other commitments.

For this meeting I was asked to write the report for the HSA’s website and I started the day by talking to Leigh Andrews who did nine HSA rounds in 2012 but due to work commitments in the US last year only managed the final round at Curborough.  However, he’s back again for 2014 determined to do more events in the championship and with his trusty RX8 looking very smart for the new season.  As we talked about why he liked the HSA and the championship I thought I should record the conversation for the HSA website report and decided to video as many HSA people as I could.  This I did and I think the results are pretty good considering I simply used my phone and didn’t do any second takes or editing.  It was a bit hectic at times running around looking for people between my own runs but I got it done more or less. More or less because,  when I got home I realised that the one person I had forgotten to video was Leigh!  Big apologies!  Next time I see you Leigh we’ll make a feature! A biopic!

Mazda RX8
Leigh Andrews in his RX8

So here are the interviews…

 

Peta Marshall was at Loton spectating and I asked her to take some photos of HSA people for Speedscene and all the photos that follow in today’s blog are hers. Many thanks, Peta.  On the subject of photography, Peta pointed out that it is very frustrating for the public sitting at Triangle to have their view of the track impeded by official photographers standing between them and the track.  We are indebted to the official photographers for the great action shots they get, but I do think she has a point.  It is the main public viewing area and even if you get a shot of a car, when the photographers are there  invariably there will be  fluorescent jacketed photographer in it.

Anyway, as I’ve just written a HSA website report I may as well paste that here as I think it says it all.  I’ve had a great two years in the single-seater, learnt a lot, changed ratios in a Hewland gearbox and met a lot of interesting people.  I never did crack that 60 second barrier at Loton but there will be other challenges, hopefully in a classic roadgoing car.

Round 3 of the HSA Championship.

[NOTE! This report was written before the official results were posted and may contain some inaccuracies. I’ll correct them when we have the results.]

Fourteen HSA members turned up on a sunny and dry Easter Monday for the third round of the SBD Motorsport Speed Championship, which was run by Hagley & District Light Car Club. Going into this round Mike Hawley in his Honda S2000 was leading with 28 points, with ex-S2000 driver Matt Carter in his Radical PR6 and Gavin Neale in his Peugeot 106 both just one point behind.

Jon Fox was the only contender in Class A1 (Road-Going Series Production Cars up to 1400cc) and almost set a new HSA class record on his first competition run. Jon recorded a time of 69.96 in his Peugeot 106 XSi just three tenths behind Richard Stephens’ class record set in a Peugeot 106 Rallye in 2012.

John Fox
John Fox

In Class A2.1 (the popular special class for MX5s) Tony Thomas and Michael Tindale were present, driving cars from either end of the MX5 spectrum – Michael in his old, high mileage and more or less standard Mk1 and Tony in his new and much more powerful Mk3 and showing that you can have fun in both. Michael was 7 tenths off his personal best and Tony broke his own HSA class record with a time of 66.11 earning him a useful 16 championship points.

Michael Tindale
Michael Tindale
Tony Thomas
Tony Thomas

In Class A2 (Road-Going Series Production Cars 1400cc to 2000cc) neither Mike Hawley (S2000) nor Leigh Andrews (Mazda RX8) had been to Loton before. If you had seen Mike’s car after his Harewood accident last year you might have thought it would be written off but here it is looking like new and leading the championship. Leigh’s car has also had a makeover during the winter and looks very smart in its new paint. In the competition Mike got the better of Leigh and with a time of 67.95 smashed the existing HSA record by almost three seconds and in so doing collected enough points to stay ahead in the championship.

Leigh Andrews
Leigh Andrews
Mike Hawley
Mike Hawley

All these HSA classes were grouped together in the HDLCC’s class 1B for Roadgoing Series Production Cars up to 2 litre, which was won by David West in an 1800cc Peugeot 106 GTi in a time of 63.13 seconds.

In Class A3 (Road-Going Series Production Cars over 2000cc) Paul Trill (Turbocharged Mazda RX7), Peter Cox (Suburu Impreza) and Brian Marshall (3.2 litre Porsche 944SE) vied for points, though because Brian had entered the Classic Marques Handicap Challenge he ran with HDLCC’s Class 14 well after the others ran in Class 1C – Roadgoing Series Production cars over 2 litre.

Peter Cox
Peter Cox
Paul Trill
Paul Trill
Brian Marshall
Brian Marshall

Peter, who has been up Loton in 50.27 seconds in his Chevron B42, was the fastest of the trio with a time of 61.74 in his Scooby. Brian, who has competed in a Porsche 924S and 944 Turbo and is now driving a 944SE recorded a personal best in practice of 65.06 but couldn’t match that in the afternoon when his best time was 65.18 and Paul, in his first ever hillclimb, improved on every run, which is what we all want to do but often can’t.

In C2 (Modified Limited Production Cars up to 2000cc) there were three competitors – Paul Drowne and Colin Satchell sharing a Peugeot 205 and Keith Murray in his Audi 80 Quattro. Class C2 matched HDLCC’s class 3B exactly and attracted nine entries and was won by Keith in a time of 55.96 with Colin and Paul taking second and third in class respectively. Keith’s time of 55.96 is a personal best, a new Loton class record and a new HSA class record. Colin and Paul also broke the standing HSA record of 58.23 and in doing so scored extra points.

Colin Satchell
Colin Satchell
Keith Murray
Keith Murray
Paul Drowne
Paul Drowne

In J1 (Formula Fords up to 1994) I was the only HSA contender but could not get near my personal best of 60.76, recording a best time of only 62.46. However, the interest in this class was Samantha Lester who is being mentored by Richard Summers, whose Van Diemen RF80 she is sharing this year. Richard was the fastest of the Formula Fords with a 59.38 and Samantha recorded an outstanding 61.58 in her first event in a single seater.

Bob Ridge-Stearn
Bob Ridge-Stearn

In Class W2 (Classic Racing Cars, 1976-1983) David Tilley was the sole competitor in his magnificent 1980 Formula Two Toleman T9280R. He competed in HDLCC’s Class 11 (Racing cars over 2000cc), which was won by Scott Moran in his new Gould GR-55, but David’s participation in the class added a lot of interest. His time of 55.92 was just over a second off John Burton’s HSA class record of 54.76, which John set in a Ralt RT3.

David Tilley
David Tilley

In Class U (Classic Road-Going Saloons up to 1976) John Harrison undoubtedly provided the best spectacle of any of the competitors as he wrestled his huge 5.3 litre 1958 Dodge Coronet up the hill. Everyone held their breath as he squealed around each corner, the whole car lurching from side to side and threatening to tip over, with John driving single handed, his left arm out of the window to hold on for dear life and stop him sliding across that very long bench seat. At first many of us thought it was all a joke and it would end in tears, but John completed all four runs – a testament to his skill and bravery and the car’s reliability. There’s only one other car registered in this class – Daniel Ward’s Saab 96 which is undoubtedly much quicker, but I hope we get to see them go head to head and that John and Daniel can have a good battle for class honours – completely different cars but a welcome addition to our championship. There was no previous record in this class so John now holds it with a time of 83.05.

John Harrison
John Harrison

( If the youtube video that is embedded into this post does not work on your device, here is a link: http://youtu.be/M4XJXWm7h-o )

Loton Park 20 April 2014

van_diemen_loton

This was my first outing in the Van Diemen this year and apart form the brakes, which were very spongy and probably just need bleeding, I was very pleased with it.  The gear change in particular was much improved after Aldon fixed it and it was even simply to engage reverse and back into my space in the paddock.

The morning was grey but dry, but because I was a bit worried about stopping the best I did was a time of  64.78,  which was a long way off my personal best of 60.76 .  In the afternoon it was very wet and I just wasn’t brave enough.

Although I got soaked through, it was great to be competing again.  However, I’ve decided to sell the Van Diemen and buy a classic roadgoing  car. Not sure what yet, but something I can hilllclimb and also do classic rally tours  in.

Van Diemen in the wet
I like this photo of me in the Van Diemen. It was taken by Rob Macdonald, an amateur photographer from Stourbridge who has a website called Rob Mac Photography. I think this photo sums up this afternoon. Wet!

Ready for 2014

Van Diemen RF87

Ready!  And with a whole week to spare before my first event of 2014 at Loton Park on Easter Sunday.   All fixed mechanically and all that horrible white Dulux and those  stickers gone. So why am I vaguely thinking of selling it and buying a roadgoing classic car in which I can do hillclimbs and European classic car rallies?  Not sure myself. Maybe I’ll change my mind after Loton.  We’ll see.

Over the winter Aldon Automotive had the car (I only got it back a week ago) and I’ve been fixing up the bodywork.   Last year I had an issue with the brakes sticking on – sometimes making it difficult to be pushed down the hill after a run.  So the brakes were checked and the callipers stripped down and new pistons and seals fitted.  However, Aldon noticed that when on the rolling road there were inconsistent drag readings after lifting off.  This was traced to a CV joint. They discovered that the CV joints were not a pair – one being a lightweight one, which was completely worn out, and a regular heavier one which was OK.  With that problem sorted it should now be easier for the marshals to push me off the top of Loton and maybe I’ll be quicker getting up there as well.

We also replaced all worn wheel bearings. In doing this we discovered that one of the suspension uprights was broken,  but we were able to get this welded rather than buy a new one. A very nice job.   We also replaced all worn rose joints in the suspension.

I didn’t have any major engine work done, just the tappets adjusted. It’s not putting out as much power as it did, but I think it should do for another season.

I also had a few little jobs done that have bugged me for a while.  Aldon removed a loose joint in the gear linkage  and made a new connector and adjusted everything so there is now no slop in it.  They also replaced various brackets that had broken over the years – e.g. the plate the the coil is attached to and the bracket that holds the brake bias adjuster. Body-wise all cracks have been repaired and I treated myself to a new screen.

So, I’m all set. There hasn’t been time to take it for a test drive so my first few runs up Loton will be a little cautious.  There are three of us entered in the Formula Ford class – Richard Summers and Samantha Lester in Richard’s 1980 Van Diemen and myself. Unfortunately the organisers have amalgamated the Formula Ford class with the 1600cc Racing Car class (only two cars), who take about 12 seconds less than us to get to the top.  Still, this doesn’t really affect me too much since my sole aim is to record a sub 60 second time.  That was my aim at the beginning of 2013 too.

Van Diemen RF87

 

Work continues

While I continue to faff about with the bodywork, Alan’s working on the car and discovering more and more things that I “really should have fixed.”

photo

First we discovered mismatched CV joints -one lightweight one and one regular one with the lightweight one needing replacing.  Then there were the brakes that needed rebuilding – sticky pistons. Now we’re onto wheel bearings and this broken upright.

upright

The old crossflow is down on power too according to the rolling road – only 90 bhp so we’re hoping that can be upped a bit with some cheap top end work as I’m fast running out of money.

So while Alan does his stuff, I’m now fitting the catches and latches and things that hold all the bodywork together.  Perhaps I should wait until I have the car back so that I have something firm to attach all the panels to, but on the other  hand I can get to both sides of the panels with it all off.  I’ll only really know if it’s all lined up properly when I try to fit it on the car. Oh well, you live and learn.

latch

Primed

Primed bodywork Van Dieman RF87

Getting there slowly.  Everything’s repaired and now primed.  Looks a million times better than last year’s effort with Dulux gloss and a brush. This year I am using marine paint specially for fibreglass and a small roller.

An ebay find.

Last week I came across this on ebay.  A sales brochure for my 1987 Van Diemen RF87. So I had to buy it.

Van Diemen RF87 Brochure Page 1 2 3 4

Here’s the text from page 2…

GENERAL:
Although the RF87 is extensively modified and redesigned, it nevertheless retains much of the all conquering RF86 concept which last year won 24 national and international championships and the Formula Ford Festival. Whilst the new car is a further development of this advanced technology design we have gone to extreme lengths to keep the car practical, straightforward and durable so that all drivers can prepare and race their cars on differing circuits with the minimum of effort. As standard, the car is fitted with a full 6-point Willans seat harness, a fully plumbed automatic fire extinguisher system, a cast alloy sump, aeroquip lines, mirrors and an extensive range of body colours.

BODYWORK:
Resulting from several months of thorough wind tunnel and track testing the distinctive Van Diemen shape incorporates many detail changes achieving low drag coefficients and the most aerodynamic package yet, which further increases straight line speed and acceleration.

CHASSIS:
The new design consisting of a multi-tubular frame which utilises high quality round and square aircraft specification tube,  conforms to all the new regulations as laid down by the FIA in respect of footwell location and minimum cockpit cross-sectional areas, Extensive bracing in the cockpit and dash hoop areas combines to give additional torsional rigidity to the chassis with more driver safety and comfort.

SAFETY:
The main roll-over and dash hoops are full FIA and S.C.C.A approved. The chassis is extensively braced in the footwell and cockpit area to avoid chassis deflection and provide additional driver safety in the event of accidents. A rubber bladder fuel cell conforming to FIA/SPEC/FT3 is fitted as standard, and ignition components have been relocated to conform with the new 1987 safety regulations.

FRONT SUSPENSION:
The all new push rod suspension as used on almost all F1 Grand Prix cars, operates through bell-cranks to horizontally located gas filled Bilstein dampers mounted behind the dash hoop. The top and bottom wishbones of flat oval section pick-up on universal high tensile cast uprights , which have simple camber, caster and toe-in adjustments and are recessed into the wheels.
REAR SUSPENSION:
The unique rear assembly which uses the specially designed engine-to-gearbox module remains similar in concept to the RF86 car. Revised offset rockers and flat oval wishbones are utilised to give better weight distribution and antisquat characteristics to the
chassis. As with the front suspension, universal high tensile cast uprights are used, recessed into the wheels and with simple camber, caster and toe-in adjustments. Bilstein gas dampers, which are ducted for cooling, are located along with the oil tank in the gearbox module.

COOLING:
The two side mounted radiators with increased capacity have been moved forward 8″ from the RF86 position resulting in more efficient cooling with better air flow and weight distribution.

BRAKES:
The braking system (as with the clutch) is fully aeroquipped throughout, with 10″ front and rear Van Diemen discs, located outboard and operating through cast iron calipers.

DIMENSIONS:
Front track: 55″ centre line to centre line of wheels
Rear track: 57″ centre line to centre line of wheels
Wheel base: 100″ centre to centre of wheels
Overall length: 134″

“The Continuing Success Story”.

On the back cover are photos of the previous year’s RF86.  Formula Ford is traditionally the way into single-seater racing and young drivers hope it is a step on the path to a Formula One seat, though most FF drivers of course do not make the grade or have the luck.  So back in 1986 when the brochure was produced we have four successful young Van Diemen drivers and nobody knew what the future held for them.

Paul Tracey, in his winged RF86, was just sixteen when he won the Canadian Formula Ford championship in 1986. He went on to have a career in Indycars in the States and last year Autosport magazine named him one of the 50 greatest drivers never to have raced in Formula One.  He still races today.

Jason Elliot was 18 in 1986 when he won the British Formula Ford 1600 champion but I don’t know what became of him after that.

Philippe Favre from Switzerland came second in the British Formula Ford championship in 86 in his Van Diemen and went on to have a successful racing career, driving in Formula 3, F3000 and Sports Cars at Le Mans.  Tragically, he was killed in a skiing accident last month in France at the age of 51, just three weeks before Schumacher’s skiing accident.

Finally we have Roland Ratzenberger who in 1986 he won  the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. Eight years later he did win that elusive Formula One drive but tragically he was killed in qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix in the April, the day before Senna died in the race itself.

Stickers unstuck

IMG_2032

 

Most of the Dulux and all of the stickers and fixings are off now and tomorrow I’ve got some special paint stripper arriving that won’t harm the fibreglass to get the last remaining bits off. Then it’s a case of rubbing down, repairing, priming and painting.  To save money I’m going to hand paint it again but this time will give myself more time and will rub down between coats.  No runs this time and no stickers next year and definitely no gorilla tape which was a right pain to remove.

A Naked Van Diemen

Today I removed all the bodywork from  the Van Diemen in order to prepare it for painting.  Last year I simply painted it in situ but I want to try to do it properly this year.  I was surprised by how difficult it was to remove the lower side panels.  The radiators had to come off and the floor removed to access some fixings and there were various nuts and bolts that were difficult to get at.  I had thought that racing cars just unclipped.  Not this one for sure. There was also a lot of jiggling around to get the side panels past the front suspension and I fear that if I do end up with nicely painted panels I’ll scratch them getting than back on, but I really don’t want to start removing wishbones and the like.

1

2

Next stage will be removing the horrible white Dulux gloss and all those stickers.  What a mistake!

Blyton Park 13 and 14 July 2013

What a weekend! Great fun at Blyton Park.

I had left the Van Diemen at the Mugglestones’ after Harewood last weekend as Alan fancied a go in it at Blyton and he lives more or less on my way home so it saved me trailering it back to Kinver. When I arrived on Friday afternoon there it was in his workshop with the head off! Didn’t sound right, Bob. Found a bent valve but luckily I had a spare.

Things got adjusted on that car this weekend I didn’t know I had. ‘Give me 5 mill on the front bar, Bob’ he said casually on Saturday afternoon. If he’d said give me pint in the public bar or a brandy in the lounge bar I’d have had a clue! What a privilege and an education to have Alan set up the car. I of course can’t feel the difference that extra 5 mill on the front anti roll bar makes but he can and he took it around Blyton in 68.49 seconds. That’s over three seconds faster than Peter Caiado-Gillett’s 2012 time of 71.87 and faster than some much more powerful cars with wings and slicks .

My best time for the weekend was 73.77 (4th timed run Sunday) which was a Personal Best and I recorded a 74.06 in my 2nd HSA qualifying run which was good enough to beat Chris Bennett’s 2012 HSA class record (74.23). Others in the class also left happy. It was good to see Geoff Ward back, fit and well, in his Swift, Mark Paterson was quick as usual and Rob Pallett finally looked comfortable and competitive in their Jamun.
Here are the FF results:

Saturday
1. Alan Mugglestone 69.77
2. Mark Paterson 73.66
3. Geoff Ward 74.73
4. Bob Ridge-Stearn 75.65
5. Rob Pallett 75.86

Sunday
1. Alan Mugglestone 68.49
2. Mark Paterson 72.05
3. Geoff Ward 72.23
4. Rob Pallett 72.92
5. Bob Ridge-Stearn 73.77

Alan also claimed second place in the Roadgoing, Kit, Replica & Spaceframed over 1700cc class in his Raw Fulcrum on Saturday and he and Nick Mugglestone took second and third places respectively on the Sunday with Angela Mugglestone taking second in the HSA MX5 class to Tony Thomas on both days.  Nick also picked up the Best Prepared Car award.

Here are some pics…

No need for tyre warmers at Blyton!
No need for tyre warmers at Blyton!
My 1987 Van Diemen Formula Ford
Geoff Ward’s Swift SC93F Formula Ford.
Mark and Rob's Jamun M91
Mark and Rob’s Jamun M91
Geoff being scrutineered.
Geoff being scrutineered.
Mark and Rob’s turn.
L-R: Alan, Mark, Geoff, Jenny, Nick, Angela and Tony.
Alan in the Raw Fulcrum
Alan in the Raw Fulcrum
Angela in the MX5
Angela in the MX5
Angela heading for the line.
Angela heading for the line.
Alan in the Van Diemen.
Alan in the Van Diemen.
The single seater end of the paddock.
The single seater end of the paddock.

And here’s a video of Alan  showing how to drive a Formula Ford…  This was his 68.49 run.

And here by comparison is one of my finishes…

PS – To the mini driver who came over to speak to me Saturday afternoon – sorry I can’t find you on the entry list – apologies for being a bit distracted but thanks for your kind comments about this blog!

Off on holiday now. Next event will be Loton Park next month.

A Saturday sat on a garage floor.

Well, I’m feeling quite pleased with myself. I did the job twice today and think I could do it a third time without recourse to written instructions or videos.  I say videos because when I bought the car Martin kindly showed me how to do a ratio change and I videoed him doing it, so I watch the video bit by bit as I do the job.  Thanks David for the helpful comment – it was useful to have a succinct text version too.  The hammer by the way was for removing and straightening the split pins.  And this is one reason I am slow – unlike a mechanic or engineer not even the simplest of tasks is familiar – so removing a split pin becomes a job in itself.  And of course I have no spare split pins lying about so I have to hammer those ones straight. I’ll have to get organised now I know what to do and can anticipate what ‘ll need.  In fact I’ll pop down the local pub tonight and try to blag some women’s stockings – essential I do believe for filtering the old gear oil before pouring it back in. Thanks also to Mike for the link to the article on the Classic Formula Ford  site.  Les – the amount of time I’m sat on the floor behind that car demands a carpeted garage!.

So this is what I found difficult – getting the output stack back in without it all falling to pieces in my hands as it did a couple of times.   Also getting it in the last inch – lots of jiggling about and then it suddenly decided to do it.  Frustrating. I also made a couple of mistakes. Put the first casing back on first time without liquid gasket stuff and I hadn’t realised how important it is to lock the box in both top and reverse at the same time to do up the big nuts on the ends of the shafts. Anyway, it all works – tested on the drive.  Just hope the linkage is OK – that has a tendency to slip and I can’t tell if it’s OK until out on track. At least I know now how to adjust it.

Here’s a video which I found quite amusing considering I felt through the whole process that I needed another pair of hands.  It’s someone doing the job one-handed while holding a video camera in his other hand. I bet he couldn’t get it back in the car one-handed though.