Thruxton or Cadwell, Cadwell or Thruxton was the debate; an argument which Cadwell ultimately won due to MSV’s far superior ticketing system, a shorter commute and opportunity to see the highly entertaining Classic Sports Car Club crowd at one of the UK’s finest circuits.
With immediate family dropped off en route, and fortunately arriving at the scene of a lorry’s argument with an A46 roundabout before the queues developed, I was pleasantly surprised to park up at Charlies with still 15 minutes remaining of the day’s first qualifying session. Better still the early June heat-wave appeared to be continuing and I, on being instantly reminded of the exceptional spectator viewing on offer, had a feeling we were in for a good day.
Whilst some of the grids fell far short of the numbers witnessed at Donington some 2 weeks earlier the racing did not suffer. In fact some of the closest racing of the day took place in the 6 car Special Saloons and Modsports race where a slow starting Ian Everett (in Tim Cairn’s Midget) eventually found a way passed Neil Duke’s Anglia and the 2.6 litre MK2 Escort of Martin Reynolds to take the race 1 victory. Despite a close encounter with Duke at the Mountain section in the early stages, the MG Hexagon pilot was able to stretch his lead to over 3 seconds by the time the chequered flag was waved following a remarkable pass for the lead around the outside at Mansfield!
Two races for the AR Motorsport Morgan Challenge were a welcome addition to the timetable and whilst both races saw runaway victors; Oliver Pratt claiming a 47 second race 1 victory and Roger Whiteside finishing 17 seconds ahead of his nearest rival in race 2, the battles behind were far less clear cut. Class 4 was the highlight with Steve Lockett (5th overall in both races) eventually claiming a double class victory with Simon Sherry and Tom Richards finishing a close second in each of the respective races.
Morgan Challenge race 1 victor Pratt was also due to start the Future Classics race from pole. However a fluid leak after the formation lap lead to the 4.6 litre Morgan being wheeled away from the grid. This ultimately left the way clear for an intriguing battle for victory between Sam Smith’s MX-5 and Martyn & Matthew Ellis’ Sunbeam Lotus. Whilst Martyn Ellis lead the early stages, a 30 second pitstop penalty for winning the previous round entered ensured Matthew Ellis would return to the track behind the pink MX-5 of Smith. Fastest lap after fastest lap ensued and remarkably the Sunbeam pilot appeared to have snatched victory in the closing stages, only to be landed with a 30 second post race penalty for a 0.9 second too short pit stop!
The Swinging Sixties Group 1 race (for smaller engine capacity cars) was perhaps the highlight of the day where Ian Staines worked his way to the front of the impressive 27 car field by the end of lap 1. And despite never relinquishing the top position, the MG Midget pilot was under pressure throughout the opening half of the race with Chris Watkinson’s Austin Mini and Tim Cairn’s pole sitting Turner in hot pursuit. The Mini challenge would sadly fade with troubles at the pitstop leaving Cairn’s to provide the main opposition. But whilst the Turner pilot seemed to be right up there on ultimate pace, the Midget seemed more at ease in the traffic, leaving Staines to claim a well deserved 9 second victory.
The more powerful Swinging Sixties machines would form the Group 2 grid, and having cemented pole by over 1 second, Jamie Keevil in his Lotus Elan would take an early lead. Any thoughts of a stroll to victory however were quickly dispelled as the Lotus 7 of John and Tom Muirhead was able to keep the Elan in sight. But despite setting fastest lap of the race, the Lotus 7 duo were not able to mount a serious challenge for victory and ultimately ended the event 9 seconds in arrears. Following the pitstops, Jonathan Crayston and David McDonald would find themselves locked in a battle for the final podium position and it would be the TR6 of McDonald that would come out on top following a late overtake, thus ending a Lotus class lockout of the podium positions.
And last but least (not in race order), disappointingly just 9 cars took the start of the Mintex Classic K race which even around the relatively short Cadwell park left plenty of quiet gaps. That aside the racing remained enjoyable with little to choose between the top 3 runners, Jon Wolfe’s Elan, the David Beresford / David Morrison MG B and the TR4 of Neil Howe. Pole sitter Wolfe just had the edge throughout though with his Elan taking the flag 6 seconds clear of Morrison’s MG. The battle of the race was for 4th spot however, where for lap after lap Nick Jesty, in his 1293 Mini, tried his absolute best to find a way passed Steve Chapman’s TR4. After the pitstops it looked like the Austin pilot had finally cracked it only for the more powerful Triumph to find a way back through. Fabulous racing.
And in what seemed like the blink of an eye, the final Morgan had re-entered the paddock and the day was sadly over, 9 hours at the circuit gone in an instant! Whilst it would have been nice to see slightly fuller grids you couldn’t grumble with the quality of entry, which combined with the fabulous weather, the picturesque undulating nature of the circuit and the event running like clockwork (not a single safety car period) pleased the inner photographer (and Motorsport fan) in me! I won’t leave it as long to visit Cadwell again and next time hopefully the great unwashed will be allowed to traipse around the Paddock.
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