The Archie Scott Brown Trophy
HSCC, Snetterton, 5th June, 2016
A Tale of Two Chevvies
The opportunity to run the Archie Scott Brown Trophy again this year was a pleasant surprise and I'm extremely grateful to Grahame White of the HSCC for allowing me to do so, bearing in mind the low turnout last year. On the other hand, it was recognised that clashing as it did with the Le Mans Legends race, it was up against it, so there was hope that this year would provide a bigger grid. I cannot hide my disappointment from the fact that this failed to materialise with just 11 cars, splendid though they were, participating. Whilst it is true that we lost two cars before the event through mechanical issue and another where the replacement engine was held up in the States, it is difficult to explain why a race run for the legendary Archie Scott Brown and also in memory of Brian Lister and his cars was unable to generate more interest and enthusiasm.
Ernie Nagamatsu had been very keen to enter Old Yeller II and Sean McLurg, who had driven Ernie's Porsche Speedster in the race last year, was very anxious to have the car ready. Unfortunately, a replacement engine, to be flown over from the States was held up for a while and didn't arrive in time. Sam Stretton had to withdraw the splendid Nash Healey Le Mans, which had appeared in the Tom Cole race, when the head gasket was found to have failed. Finally, one of Rob Manson's entries, the Street Manning Special to be driven by Marcus Bicknell had mechanical failure even before its race at MG Live, Silverstone the day before. In fact, Rob's other entry, the Baldwin Mercury Special was also at risk as an increasingly slipping clutch led to Rob's retirement in the Silverstone race (See our MG Live report) and to change it was an engine out job. A tremendous effort by the mechanics ensured that Rob was able to get to Snetterton and qualify for the Scott Brown.
It was unlikely that, in the dry, pole would come from anything other than one of the two Lister Knobbly Chevrolets entered, and thus it proved. An event rare so far this year in the East of England, the day started bright and sunny and remained that way, so Steve Boultbee-Brooks was unable to repeat his excellent pole position in damp conditions from last year. It was left to Mark Lewis and Roberto Giordanelli to battle it out and towards the end of the session, Roberto, in his ex Dean Van Lines Lister Chevrolet pipped Mark Lewis in his self built version, by just two tenths. Steve was 3rd and off their pace by 4.5 seconds but well clear of the pack. James Paterson qualified a truly excellent 4th in the little Lotus 11. Richard Last, struggling to find any grip with his Lister Jaguar propped up the grid but hoped he would improve in the race.
As the cars lined up, it was on a dry track, bathed in sun from a clear sky. A small but stunning group of cars burst off the line with the sound of the two Chevvy engined Listers drowning out everything else. A touch of wheelspin from Roberto Giordanelli, on pole, allowed Mark Lewis to have the edge as they plunged into Riches for the first time. All the cars got away pretty smartly and Richard Last picked off a couple of cars from the back but very soon spun on cold tyres. He had reduced the pressures in the tyres following practice but was still not entirely happy with the handling of the car and now had a lot of work to do.
At the end of the first lap, Mark Lewis held a slender lead over Roberto Giordanelli, with Steve Boultbee- Brooks just about hanging onto them, making it a Lister 1-2-3. Already several seconds behind, in 4th, was Chris Keen in the Kurtis, with a small gap to Tony Ditheridge in the Cooper Monaco and James Paterson in the Lotus 11. Andrew Wenman was next up, going well in the XK120, with Rob Manson a little behind. Paul Griffin had taken the Connaught passed Chris Mann's Alfa Disco Volante and Richard Last had lost well over 30 seconds following his spin and it was to be a long road back for the Lister Jaguar.
By the end of lap 2 the leading pair had dropped the Boultbee-Brooks Lister Jaguar but Steve was well clear of the rest and destined for a pretty lonely race. Tony Ditheridge was edging his Cooper Monaco away from James Paterson's Lotus 11 and closer to Chris Keen's Kurtis, these two shaping up for a good dice with close matching lap times. Andrew Wenman's Jaguar XK120 was beginning to fall behind these three but was pulling away from Rob Manson's Baldwin Mercury Special. The little Connaught of Paul Griffin, having cleared Chris Mann's Alfa Romeo, did not have the pace to go after Rob.
By Lap 3, Mark Lewis had started to open up a gap to Roberto Giordanelli and this grew to about 5 seconds by the end of lap 6 and then stabilised. What we didn't know at the time was that the ignition timing had slipped slightly on Roberto's Lister, the resultant loss of power preventing him from taking the fight to Mark and depriving us of a really close battle between these two mighty cars. The Cooper Monaco had got on terms with the Kurtis and this unusual pairing entertained greatly as Tony and Chris enjoyed their close battle for 4th, the Cooper getting ahead briefly on lap 4 before losing the place again the following lap. By this stage James Paterson's Lotus 11 was some 10 seconds behind them but with a similar gap to Rob Manson behind.
By lap 6, the cars were pretty well spread out with the exception of the 4th place dice between the Kurtis and the Cooper Monaco which continued to entertain us until a couple of laps from the end when Tony started having gear selection problems and in order to ensure a finish he left the Cooper in one gear and cruised home, albeit dropping some way off the back of the Kurtis. Paul Griffin had dropped to the back of the field and brought the Connaught into the pits on lap 6 with fuelling problems and was to lose 3 laps whilst attempts to resolve it were made.
The Connaught returned to the track when the leaders were on lap 9 but was still lapping off its original pace and Paul again pitted briefly after a couple of laps for a further check. He rejoined the fray to take the flag having completed 10 laps, 4 laps down on the winner. At the front, Mark Lewis had decided to spice things up by spinning out of Murrays and handed the lead to Roberto Giordanelli who stormed passed to complete the lap just under 7 seconds ahead of the recovering Lewis. Mark has a bit of form here since he had spun the car in last year's wet race early on and had a long recovery drive to 3rd. This time however he was not to be denied. Over the last few laps he closed in and as the two Lister Chevrolets exited Murrays, Roberto in his slightly hobbled car was powerless to stop Mark blasting by to snatch victory by 3 tenths, about the same distance apart as they had finished last year but with positions reversed. Steve Boultbee- Brooks was a distant 3rd whilst the only other car to finish on the lead lap was Chris Keen in the Kurtis. All the cars finished although 3 were mechanically wounded and Richard Last had found a bit of time over his qualifying best and professed to have enjoyed himself rather more that during practice, despite his spin on the first lap. There must surely be more pace yet to come in this Lister Jaguar.