The Tom Cole Trophy Race
VSCC Spring Start, Silverstone, 22nd April, 2017
This was the second running of the Tom Cole Trophy Race, and the fifth in a series of races that we have run at the VSCC Spring Start, born out of the George Abecassis Centenary Trophy race that David Abecassis and the writer put together back in 2013. The background for this race can be ascertained by reading last year's race report and in fact, you can trace the series back to the Centenary race, since we have race reports for all of them on this site. However, for new members and as a reminder to existing members, this race always deliberately contains a few sports racing cars which would not be eligible for the other races in our FISCAR season. This mix of cars and its class structure is unique to this race although Inter-Marque team points and Index of Performance results are rewarded and still count towards the end of year Trophies.
This race is now well established and entries started flowing in quite early but once we got into the mid twenties started to dry up a little to the consternation of the VSCC. However, as is usual, there were plenty of late entries, some very late, and eventually we had 37 entries listed in the programme but we lost both Morgans; those of Richard Thorne and Alan House, the latter withdrawing his entry due to the failure of a new part. We didn't see Tim Pearce in the AC Ace and Austin Kinsella drove John Briggs Austin Healey (106) rather than his own, so we were down to 33 for qualifying. Noticeably absent were GT Astons, not a DB2 or DB2/4 to be seen but one 2/4 owner, Nigel Batchelor, entered the little Cooper MG that he had acquired from Chris Guest last year. This car has been out with us before although not recently and is another representative of that class of small sports cars from the 1950s that we call the FLIERS, of which other examples in the race were the little 1100cc Kieft Climax of Craig McWilliam, and the LECo 2, currently the quickest of the 1500cc XPAG engine sports cars in the UK, of Alex Quattlebaum who flew in from the States to do this race.
Aston Martin was therefore represented by just one entry, but what an entry Steve Boultbee -Brooks ex Kangeroo Stable DB3S is and it is a constant source of delight that Steve continues to bring this stunning car out with us. Jaguar XKs were also absent although they have never been FISCAR regulars since they race in other series which allows a degree of modification that we don't. However the Coventry Cat was superbly represented by the late entry 1951 C-type of Rüediger Friedrichs - a 3.4 on SUs and drum brakes all round - great stuff. Sadly, we had no MGA representation, but I know that at least one, Shaun Bromley's example, is currently in bits undergoing a long overdue refurbish! Virtually all the other classic British 1950s marques were represented though - AC, Austin Healey (including a 100S), Frazer Nash, Triumph TR, the slightly later Lotus Elites, Turners and Sunbeam Alpine, although a Jowett Jupiter would have been a splendid addition. Italy was represented by Brian Arculus again in his lovely Alfa Romeo Giulietta SVZ in the race but again there was no Porsche 356 representation.
There were also number of other Invitation cars only eligible for this race. Tom Cole's short race career was mainly in Allards and Ferraris. In the absence of any Allard entry, the American V8 connection was upheld by the Kurtis 500S of Chris Keen and the even bigger V8 in Matthew Collings HWM Cadillac. David Cottingham who supports us so well, entered the Ferrari 500TRC for his son, James to drive, a potential frontrunner if ever there was. Martin Hunt changed his entry of the Frazer Nash to his HWM Jaguar quite late on, and finally, a very late entry was another real bonus, the Maserati 300S of Guillermo Fierro Eleta. Whilst Guilllermo has raced before in his 250F, this was his first time out in the 300S. I have to admit with the presence of an example of each of the mid 1950s sports racing grandee marques of Aston, Ferrari , Jaguar and Maserati, I was, more than ever, looking forward simply to seeing them, and indeed the whole grid, line up at the start.
When Chris Keen asked if he could enter the Kurtis, in which, starting from the pit lane, he came 3rd last year, I asked him to hold off because at the time, the entry list contained no entry capable of going with him and it would have been boring for both Chris and the spectators for him to just rumble off into the distance untroubled with the likelihood of Steve Boultbee-Brooks equally secure in 2nd place a few seconds behind in the Aston. However, with the late entry of James Cottingham in the Ferrari 500TRC and Martin Hunt swapping to his HWM it was, as they say, game on. Later still with the entry of the C-Type Jaguar and the Maserati 300S, we had a recipe for some classic action at the front of the pack. However, it was still a surprise that on his first time out in the car, Guillermo put the fabulous Maserati on pole, a great birthday present to himself. He was the only one to dip under a 1 min 10 second lap. Chris was alongside in the Kurtis, with James in the Ferrari 3rd. I fully expected the Ferrari to be a bit quicker in the race, as James had been a little circumspect in qualifying due to a worry over a minor fuel leak, which was rectified for the race. Alongside the Ferrari on the second row was Steve's Aston and the 3rd row was occupied by Rudi Friedrichs in the C-type, qualifying just ahead of Martin Hunt in the HWM and I felt that Martin would also be quicker in the race.