The Tom Cole Trophy Race
VSCC, Silverstone, 14th April 2019
It was very gratifying to note that our Tom Cole entries were up on last year. The VSCC had decided that only one 1950s sports car race was to be run at this meeting and I had rewritten the rules slightly this year to make the grid as inclusive as possible whilst keeping within the spirit of the Tom Cole race which has always been for the usual FISCAR compliant cars plus a few invitation sports racers. It was, however, impossible to include the quickest of the VSCC entries who were therefore racing solely for their Hawthorn International Trophy, but, like our Tom Cole cars, would be required to stop within our normal pit window for this 30 minute race.
Altogether, there were 31 entries of which 25 were running for our Tom Cole Trophy although unfortunately, on the day, neither Alex Quattlebaum (LECo2) or Ruediger Friedrichs (Jaguar C type) made an appearance. There were a number of newcomers to the FISCAR ranks; Dougal Cawley in his Lotus Elite, Thomas Ward in his Frazer Nash LMR and Nick Burnside with his MGA Twin Cam which he was sharing with Mark Daniel. I think this maybe the first time a Twin Cam version had raced with us. David Graus had entered his rare Frazer Nash Targa Florio but the helmet gave it away - it was clearly Martin Stretton driving! It was also pleasing to see that Matthew Collins had entered his Austin Healey which we had not seen for 12 months and a most welcome return was the similarly mounted Robert Clarke, both cars prepared by our former hospitality sponsor Woolmer Classics and it was good to catch up with Paul. A full team of Morgan Plus 4s was also a rare event, even more so when two of them were early Flat Radiator versions.
It was no surprise to see the VSCC Hawthorn International Trophy cars head the qualifying times, Philip Walker taking pole in 1.07.67 and Bernado Hartogs alongside in 1.08.75, both in Lotus 15s but Martin Hunt grabbing 3rd with a 1.09.48 in the HWM was a surprise as was the 1.09.96 of Christopher Keen in the Kurtis 500S in 5th, thus both breaking my own, but unstated, 1.10 barrier for Tom Cole cars. Both former winners of this race, they have found a bit more pace this year. They were split by the splendid Farrallac of Tony Bianchi and ahead of the Lotus 15 of Richard Wilson and the Cooper Monaco of Andrew Smith who was clearly out of position as he went much quicker in the race, for a while, at least!
Richard Tyzack was 8th in the Kellison J4R (and therefore 3rd of the Tom Cole qualifiers), with Stephen Bond in the Lister Bristol Flatiron 9th and Martyn Corfield’s Frazer Nash LMR rounding out the top 10. Mark Daniel qualified Nick Burnside’s MGA Twin Cam, an excellent 11th ahead of Ralf Emmerling’s Elva Mk5 with Jim Campbell the best of the Austin Healeys in 13th. David Cottingham qualified his AC Ace Bristol in 14th, whilst Martin Stretton qualified David Graus’s Frazer Nash Targa Florio 15th, with Graham Love in the XK150, 16th, John Waterson in the first of the Lotus Elite’s, 17th and Tim Stamper disappointed with his time in the Aston DB2/4, 18th, but Tim always goes quicker in the race and so it again proved. Simon Kelleway was the last of the Hawthorn cars to qualify in 19th in his Lotus 11.
As can be seen above, this was a grid of wonderful variety. All 29 cars qualified, although the Jowett Jupiter had some drama, and was dropping oil, and pulled in after 7 slow qualifying laps. Initially, Harry Naerger thought a non start was on the cards but sterling work in the paddock got the car to the starting line.
A lovely grid formed up in bright but distinctly chilly weather. Philip Walker in his orange Lotus 15, from pole, took an immediate lead which, compulsory pit stop aside, he never relinquished. However, there was some real juggling of places behind him during the first lap with Andrew Smith’s Cooper Monaco gaining 5 places to complete the lap on the tail of Walker. Martin Hunt was 3rd in the HWM with Chris Keen’s Kurtis 500S a couple of seconds back in 4th but ahead of Bernard Hartog’s Lotus 15 which had lost 3 places from his front row starting position. Tony Bianchi had also lost a couple of places in the powerful but difficult to handle Farrallac, and Richard Wilson’s Lotus 15 was 7th. With all the change of places going on around him, Richard Tyzack came through having retained his 8th position in the Kellison, followed by Martyn Corfield (Frazer Nash LMR) who had grabbed 9th position off the line from the slow starting Stephen Bond in the Lister Flatiron. At the end of the lap, the ever consistent Jim Campbell in his Austin Healey 100/4 completed the top 10. Many of the following cars were pretty tightly bunched and dicing before the gaps inevitably started to appear later.
As the leading pair drew away, Andrew Smith gamely trying to stay in touch with Philip Walker, our own leading pair for the Tom Cole Trophy were also engaged in their own dice, and holding down 3rd & 4th overall, Chris Keen beginning to press Martin Hunt closely. On lap 2, these two pairings appeared well established with the next 3 places filled by the Hawthorn Trophy cars of Bernard Hartogs (Lotus 15), Tony Bianchi (Farrallac) and Richard Wilson (Lotus 15). Just behind them was Richard Tyzack in the Kellison followed by Stephen Bond in the Lister Bristol who had passed Martyn Corfield’s FNLMR to recapture the position he had lost at the start but neither were quite able to hold onto Richard’s American V8 power, which had the edge on the straights. Tim Stamper (Aston Martin DB2/4) and Simon Kelleway (Lotus 11) had gained a place at the expense of Ralf Emmerling (Elva Mk5) and there were some changes of position behind as John Waterson (Lotus Elite), Alan House (Morgan +4) and Dougal Cawley (Lotus Elite) all gained places whilst the Morgan Flat Rad duo, already engaged in their race long duel swapped places.
On the completion of their 3rd lap, the leaders had already lapped Harry Naerger who was nevertheless pressing on in the Jowett Jupiter and lapping quicker than he had in qualifying. The two leading pairs were well and truly joined in their respective battles as was the very close dice for 5th between the Hawthorn Trophy cars already mentioned, less than 2 seconds covering all 3 cars. They had not entirely shaken off the Kellison in 8th but had a small 2 second cushion which was to grow gradually. Stephen Bond had consolidated his 9th position stretching clear of Martyn Corfield’s Frazer Nash which in turn was pulling away from Jim Campbell’s Austin Healey, in 11th place. David Cottingham in the lovely AC Ace Bristol had Jim in sight but also had his mirrors full of Tim Stamper’s Aston Martin. Tim was himself being pressed by the little Lotus 11 of Simon Kelleway. Ralf Emmerling was next up in the Elva with Martin Stretton in the fabulous Frazer Nash Targa Florio in 16th. Graham Love (Jaguar XK150) was dropping away from John Waterson’s Lotus Elite and Mark Morgan (AC Ace) had managed to get ahead of Robert Clarke’s Austin Healey 100. Nick Burnside (MGA Twin Cam), in his first ever race, had been passed by the Lotus Elite of Dougal Cawley who was still making up for his poor start. The battling pair of Morgans were hanging on to the Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica of Thomas Ward and the Austin Healey 100M of Matthew Collings.
The pit window opened during the course of lap 5 but no-one availed themselves of an early stop. It was at this point that Andrew Smith’s attempts to wrest the lead from Philip Walker ended, literally, in a cloud of smoke. He had put his best lap in on lap 2 with a 1.07.54, over 3 seconds quicker than his qualifying time. This time was exactly matched by the leader the following lap but by then, the Cooper Monaco had ominously started to smoke and drop back. By the end of lap 5 it had become a cloud and Andrew pulled into the pits to retire and end his valiant effort. Walker’s Lotus 15 was thereafter able to lead comfortably unchallenged. The loss of the Monaco promoted the leading Tom Cole cars of Martin Hunt and Chris Keen to 2nd & 3rd and Chris now had the Kurtis firmly homing in on to the back of the HWM and looking for an opportunity to pass. Tony Bianchi had managed to extract himself from the Lotus 15 sandwich of Bernado Hartogs and Richard Wilson to take what was now 4th spot in the Farrallac but he was unable to shake them off, with Wilson staying particularly close. Gaps had opened up behind with Richard Tyzack in 8th holding a 3 second lead over Steven Bond’s Lister Flatiron with Martyn Corfield’s FNLMR a further 6 seconds back. Martyn had a massive 12 second gap over the Lotus 11 of Simon Kelleway who led a pretty tightly bunched group of cars headed by Jim Campbell in the Austin Healey, closely followed by Tim Stamper (DB2/4), David Cottingham (AC Ace), Ralf Emmerling (Elva Mk5) and Martin Stretton (FN Targa Florio). Slightly detached from this group was John Waterson’s Lotus Elite from Graham Love’s Jaguar XK150, Justin Beckett’s AC Ace and Alan House, the last of the unlapped runners, in his Morgan Plus 4.
Whilst Philip Walker continued to drive steadily away into the distance, Chris Keen made his move on lap 7 as he got better drive out of Woodcote and took the big Kurtis by the HWM, demoting Martin Hunt to 3rd on the road. The status quo, at the front was otherwise maintained although due to lapping cars, Bernard Hartogs Lotus 15 had dropped away from the battle for 4th. Harry Naerger brought the Jowett Jupiter in for his pitstop at the end of his lap 6. Richard Tyzack came through in 7th but Stephen Bond, in 8th brought the Lister Flat Iron in for his compulsory pit stop at the end of his lap 7, the first to do so, since he had already lapped the Jupiter. Martyn Corfield was 9th in the FNLMR followed by Simon Kelleway who had pulled clear of the pack in the little Lotus 11. Tim Stamper now had the Aston at the front of a train of cars which were beginning to stretch out in the order Jim Campbell (Austin Healey), Ralf Emmerling (Elva) and David Cottingham (AC Ace) in 14th, the last of the unlapped cars. They too were about to be lapped by the leading Lotus 15 which flashed across the line alongside David. By the end of lap 9 just 9 cars were left on the lead lap and the field became further scrambled by cars taking their pit stops; on that lap, Richard Tyzack brought the Kellison in for his compulsory stop and a lap later Graham Love (Jaguar XK150) and Thomas Ward ( Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica) did likewise.
We were now well into the pit window and the pitting phase. The leader, Philip Walker pitted his Lotus 15 at the end of his lap 10, and it was, of course the only time that he lost the lead on the road. He was followed in nearly a minute later by Bernado Hartogs in his Lotus 15, and much later (since they had already been lapped) on their 10th lap by Simon Kelleway (Lotus 11) and 3 of our Tom Cole cars - Justin Beckett (AC Ace), Dougal Cawley (Lotus Elite) & Alan House (Morgan Plus 4). Martyn Corfield retired at then end of lap 10 (clutch?) and at then end of his lap 12, John Waterson noted a ’drop in oil pressure followed by the infamous death rattle’. John pulled off on the start/finishing straight and the Elite was pushed behind the barriers by the marshals where an under bonnet inspection revealed a lot of engine damage.
Over the next 5 laps, all the cars pitted, David Cottingham in his AC Ace being the last to do so at the end of his lap 15. It was not therefore until almost the end of the race that the true race order was to re-emerge. After his stop, the Hartogs Lotus 15 started to lap 4 seconds quicker, and since there is also a change of helmet, a driver change (possibly Chris Ward who I noted later in the paddock?) although it is not recorded in the result sheets. In fact the car did under a 1.08 sec lap time in 5 of its last 8 laps, 3 of them quicker than the winner’s best lap time. It’s best lap was 1.07.05 which was blistering quick and fastest of the race by virtually half a second.
Chris Keen had pitted the Kurtis on lap 13, and thus Martin Hunt resumed the position which at the time was 1st overall, since, as noted, the leader had already taken his stop and was rapidly climbing back toward the front. Martin had been no more than 3 seconds behind Chris and pitted the following lap. When he emerged from his stop, he was 7 seconds ahead of the Kurtis. By his own admission, Chris had a slow pit stop and he had also learned that he had a 10 second penalty for a jumped start, so that whilst he subsequently chipped away at the gap to Martin and brought it down to about 5 seconds at the flag it would have been to no avail even with a better stop.
As the race ran down to its conclusion, two cars were making great strides forward. The Hartogs Lotus 15, already mentioned, was on a real charge, banging in a succession of rapid laps that took it to 3rd overall, just 3 seconds down on Martin Hunt who not only took a very fine 2nd in the Hawthorn International Trophy, but was winner of the FISCAR Tom Cole Trophy, for the second time running but driving solo this year. The second car moving forward was Nick Burnside’s MGA Twin Cam which Nick had handed over to Mark Daniel on lap 13. Mark, a much more experienced driver, started to lap consistently in the 1.14s and he made several places to finish an excellent 14th overall.
Chris Keen was 4th on the road but the 10 second penalty pushed him down to 6th in the general classification, behind Tony Bianchi’s Farrallac and Richard Wilson’s Lotus 15. Chris was nevertheless 2nd in the Tom Cole Trophy with Richard Tyzack 7th (3rd in the TCT) in the Kellison J4R. Another good drive by Stephen Bond in the Lister Flatiron Bristol was 8th overall (4th), Jim Campbell a fine 9th in his immaculate Austin Healey 100 (5th) with some incredibly consistent lappery, particularly in the second half of the race, and the top 10 (6th) was rounded out by Tim Stamper in the lovely Aston Martin DB2/4, once again proving that he is a better racer than qualifier and he ran Jim pretty close, being just 3 seconds behind after 30 minutes of racing.
Simon Kelleway, the last of the Hawthorn Trophy cars, was 11th in his Lotus 11, and Ralf Emmerling 12th (7th) in the Elva Mk5. David Cottingham was 13th (8th) in the first of the 3 car AC Ace Bristol team, with the Burnside/Daniel MGA Twin Cam 14th (9th). Alan House brought his Morgan Plus 4 across the line in 15th (10th) having been the last victim of Mark Daniel’s charge in the MGA. Graham Love (XK150), Justin Beckett (AC Ace), Dougal Cawley (Lotus Elite), Mark Morgan (AC Ace), and Robert Clarke (Austin Healey 100/4) completed the top 20.
Frazer Nashes occupied the next two places with Martin Stretton in David Graus’s Targa Florio some 14 seconds ahaead of Thomas Ward’s Le Mans Replica. However, a glance at Martin’s best lap time and his slow pit stop suggests that he could have finished a good half a dozen places higher. Matthew Collings in the last of the Austin Healey 100/4s was 23rd and finally, the last two classified runners were the early Flat Rad Morgan Plus 4s of Mark Shears and Leigh Sebba, tied together at the end as they had been at the start and I can’t help feeling that they had as much fun as anybody in their own race and swapping places. Harry Naerger’s Jowett Jupiter was, seemingly against the odds, still running at the end although having completed only 18 laps, compared to the winner’s 26, was too far behind to be classified. Brilliant efforts by everybody, and despite the disparity in performance which must have been a tad alarming to the drivers of our slower cars, the driving by all concerned was of a high standard and commented upon. - JT