HSCC Silverstone International Trophy Meeting
SATURDAY 17 MAY
SILVERSTONE GP CIRCUIT
SILVERSTONE ENJOYS MAY SUNSHINE; BIG GRIDS AND BEAUTIFUL HISTORIC CARS ON GP CIRCUIT
It doesn’t get better than this! I have seen snow in May at Silverstone back in the 70’s but last weekend was true summer stuff. Some 400+ entries over the two day meeting graced with blue skies on the GP circuit at the HSCC event, and FISCAR were privileged to be invited for their first Inter-Marque team race of the year. 24 cars entered, but one ‘no show’ to share the grid with HSCC Historic Road Sports, making up a total of nearly 60 cars. Probably just as well because it gets pretty lonely out there over the 3.6 miles after a lap or so without such a size of grid. It was an interesting mix of cars across the grids, but also a mix of tyre technology. The Roadsports cars run on road legal tyres but clearly of a rather stickier variety than our Dunlops.
No Astons or Jags this time but the Healeys, not for the first time, seemed to be the tool of the day, with a couple of Lotus Elites and an AC in there to upset the order, as well as an invitation HWM sort of representing the Jags with the 3.4 lump pulling nicely around the big circuit, and equally Aston Martin indirectly represented by the Aston engined RGS Atalanta of Chris Guest. The order of the day was a 20 mins qualifying session followed by a half hour race with pit stops to enable two drivers. A most welcome feature of the day was the continued support from our sponsors Woolmer Classic Restorations who provided generous hospitality with the high standard of luxurious biscuits and beverages that we have all come to enjoy. Add to that the presence of our new Race Day Co-ordinator, Gillian Carr, to ensure all things ran smoothly and it really is becoming like a second home to some of us, so thank you guys!
Qualifying showed that FISCAR had 7 or so cars between 13th and 25th, then a gap where most of the cars slotted into positions 35 – 55. Interestingly, the attrition rate was to hit the Historic Road Sports field more than FISCAR, so we put in a good show for the HSCC on the day. Some casualties from qualifying included Brian Arculus who suffered a clutch master cylinder failure, making good use of Silverstone Factors just outside the gate to fix that before the race; David Large had a crank seal failure in his Healey 100S but was delighted to be offered a ride as second driver by the ever cheerful Matthew Collings, for the race. Anthony Galliers Pratt was a welcome late entry in the lovely Fraser Nash Targa Florio.
It is difficult to follow a pit stop race, but add to that a combined grid, and it really is hard for drivers trying to keep tabs on who they are chasing out there in the first stint and not sure when full ‘order’ has been resumed even after the pit stop window has been closed! Spare also, a thought for spectators and commentators not knowing who is driving or the race order. Another challenge for them was two Andy Shepherds out there ……. for most of the time anyway! The Chairmans class entry of Spike Milligan and Alec Poole were on “FISCAR” pole up in 13th in the HWM with ‘our’ Andy Shepherd in the bare aluminium AC a few slots back in 17th . Brian Arculus slotted in at 20th between the Healey 100’s of Denis Welch, well known Austin Healey pilot, but first time out with us and Neil Hardy.
And so to the race. The GP circuit is a long lap of 3.6 miles, so we could expect 11 or 12 runs passed the flag for the front runners. Lap one saw the starting order generally maintained: Brian Arculus benefitting from a fully working clutch and making up a place on Denis Welch; Jon Abecassis being kept honest by a couple of TR’s, but with such a large grid it was good to see everyone safely around. As the race settled, some fascinating duels with 50’s vs 70’s cars including such beasts as a De Tomaso Mangusta dwarfing the agile Lotus Elan.
Peter Shaw was starting to show some mettle, mixed in a superb scrap with Anthony Galliers Pratt’s Fraser Nash, and a Morgan Plus 4, and the action continued down the grid with a great dice between Richard Gane in the Jowett Jupiter and Chris Gawne in the Lancia Aurelia, two rare species indeed (the cars, that is). The field was starting to spread out a little, with gaggles appearing then the lone riders in between as we approached the open pit lane window after two laps. A splendid sight of the Healeys of Welch, Hardy and Abecassis kept good company with some of the Roadsports boys, and this was turning into being one of the more interesting groups out there. On top of pitstops, lap 4 saw the start of the front runners catching the rear of the grid, even more difficult to follow!
MGA’s were well represented in FISCAR running in gaggles towards the latter part of the race. Andrew Moore’s MGA was running its distinctive high ride height at the rear, waving a wheel to the BRDC stand through Brooklands. Andy Shepherd was also showing typical verve and great lines through there with a lovely drift, exploiting, as he so often does the ‘historic’ characteristics of the Dunlops. Entertaining but still quick, Andy was driving beautifully and heading for the top of the FISCAR tree, with only the HWM ahead of him. The Bromleys in their MGA included son Josh, who was driving his first ever race and came home safely with a signature to start his collection, well done indeed. The gorgeous little Porsche 356A, another first timer with us, of Steve Wright/Ian Clark had a good run and it was great to see this marque represented well up the FISCAR finishing order. Chris Gawne’s Lancia Aurelia suffered a driveshaft problem and did not finish, his first DNF in a long time.
Peter Shaw in the Alfa Guilietta Sprint had a great run, almost matching Andy Shepherd’s skill at controlled ‘chuckability’. Carefully picking up places and consistent lap times earned him Driver of the Day; he just looked like he was having great fun out there, and was by no means the only one. Peter Adams in the Turner, professed that this was the best race he had participated in for a long time and Steve Wright vowed that he would be bringing the Porsche out with us as often as possible. There was a sting in the tail for Andy Shepherd who failed to finish, since even the AC wouldn’t run on vapour, and expired on the penultimate which was a great shame because he had gone so well and stayed ahead of Brian Arculus up near the front of ‘the FISCAR mob’ (as we were described in Autosport last week). He was on the end of some friendly family ribbing afterwards for his failure to ensure an adequate fuel supply. There was a predictably strong performance from the Austin Healey of Denis Welch to take first place in FISCAR and also from Neil Hardy and it is unusual these days to find Jonathan Abecassis behind one, let alone two fellow Austin Healeys but together their results produced 3rd place in the team awards. On the road Spike Milligan and Alec Poole were first FISCAR, but in the Chairman’s invitation class. Alec managed to squeeze in a visit to a Christening in between practice and the race as well as finding a bit of extra pace in the HWM. The other Chairman’s entry of FISCAR stalwart Chris Guest in his RGS Atalanta had a very frustrating time, with the engine reluctant to want to fire on more than 4 of its 6 cylinders most of the time and as a result finished much lower down the order than expected.
QUOTE - 'To be honest, I only came to see the FISCAR grid' - Bob Bull, Three Counties Radio.
A great start to the FISCAR 2014 season, with plenty more promised cars yet to emerge from their stables. We look forward to seeing everybody at the Morgan Car Clubs bash at Donington on June 8th.