The George Abecassis Trophy Race
VSCC - Silverstone - 18th April, 2015
The George Abecassis Trophy race has now established credentials so that despite the VSCC reducing their Spring Start meeting at Silverstone to one day, they wished to retain the race as part of their programme. This was to be the third running of the event, if we include the Centenary race back in 2013, and it retains its Invitation only status which works well but given the vagaries of motor racing led to a grid that was significantly different and therefore fresh from the previous years. This year the sports racing car content was down on last year. Steve McCulloch’s Maserati 200Si was unable to defend its victory inn the hands of Steve Hart due to engine problems incurred at the Goodwood Members meeting. Roger Buxton’s HWM and Martin Melling’s Aston Martin DB3 both required additional preparation work necessary which prevented them being available on time and Nick Finburgh was so busy preparing customer cars for the new season that the C type (2nd overall last year) could not be readied in time. However, a wonderful newcomer to this race was Eddie McGuire’s very rare Gordini T23S and Mark Butterworth’s big Allard K3 was a very welcome addition. An increase in the number of Austin Healey 100 models and Aston Martins also offset the shortfall. Amongst the latter was the famous ex works DB2, VMF65 owned by Justin Kennedy and driven for the first time in a race by Tony Green, Thus 26 cars entered and all presented themselves at the circuit on the day, an unusual occurrence in itself since it is not unknown to lose one or two on the run up to any race. A late addition to the entry list, of which more anon, brought the potential starting grid to 27 cars.
Practice and Qualifying
Qualifying had its dramas with Andrew Sharp having a rather unnerving off into the gravel when a kinked brake pipe broke on his very quick DB2. Fortunately, he had already put in a time which placed him 8th on the grid, and in a good position to move forward during the course of the race and with no damage to the car and a replacement pipe fitted, the Aston was raring to go. Sports racing cars, not unexpectedly, occupied five of the top six places on the grid, the interloper being Jonathan Abecassis who qualified an excellent 5th in his left hooker Austin Healey 100/4 which had benefitted from a substantial refresh during the winter. The front row of Eddie Maguire’s Gordini on pole with David Cottingham’s Ferrari 500TRC alongside was a surprise however if you didn’t know that Eddie and David both had quick co drivers as their not so secret weapons. Multi race winner and ARDS instructor Chris Ward put Eddie’s Gordini on pole and David’s son, James, a successful and well known historic racer, put the Ferrari on the front row with a time nearly 3 seconds behind Chris on what was to prove a very conservative lap. Row 2 was occupied by Steve Boultbee-Brooks DB3S and Spike Milligan’s HWM with Jonathan’s Austin Healey and Tom Walkers Allard J2X Le Mans on row 3. In fact the first 7 places on the grid were occupied by 7 different marques. Very sadly, Nigel Grice had to withdraw from the race when it was discovered that his Austin Healey 100M, had a cracked cylinder head. Paul Grist’s HWM appeared in the paddock to the pleasant surprise of your reporter, since it had initially not been expected to be ready, so a rush to collect the signatures required of all the other drivers to enable it to race ensued and Matt Grist was allowed to join the back of the grid!