Tag Archives: Mallory Park

Best of 2021 – Words and Pics From the Spectator Banks

After the lows of 2020, 2021 promised a return to some sort of normality in the world of Motorsport, however the elongated 3rd (I think) lockdown postponed any form of none signed-on attendance until late May!

Desperate to return to the circuits after 7 months of crowd-less sport viewing on the box an enormous entry list for the Classic Sports Car Club’s May bank holiday meeting at Donington was just the tonic I had been looking for. The 39 car Classic K race was a personal highlight which saw experienced historic racer Jamie Boot expertly guide his TVR Griffith to victory, however the moderate crowd were also treated to a trio of highly entertaining combined sprints for the Racing Special Saloons / Modsports and Bernie’s Sports Racing / V8 machines which contained everything from the whacky to the sublime!

So good in fact was my first taste of Classic Sports Car club action that a couple of weeks later I would find myself Cadwell bound for a second dose.  Unfortunately the grids were not quite so packed but this was more than made up for by perfect early Summer weather.  This time it was the Group 1 Swinging Sixties machines that stole the show with Ian Staines, aboard his MG Midget, managing to get the better of pole sitting Turner MK1 pilot Tim Cairns to claim an excellent victory at the undulating Lincolnshire track.

Late June saw a return to Donington for an excellent line up of Historic Sports Car Club grids with the added bonus of a 1 hour race for the GT & Sports Car Cup!  Despite a dull day weatherwise the on track action was as good as it gets with Michael Lyons lighting up the time sheets in the Aurora Trophy races aboard his F5000 Lola T400, Dean Forward delighting onlookers aboard his enormous Can-AM McLaren M8F to take a double Thundersports victory and Andrew’s Haddon & Wolfe claiming an excellent GT & Sports Cars Car Cup victory in their Lotus Elan.

After an excellent championship in 2020, a third trip to Donington, this time on the Grand Prix circuit, was lined up in July for the 2 hour British GT race. The series as a spectacle suffered in 2021 however with the removal of GT3 Silver Silver combinations which, combined with somewhat questionable driving standards and poor quality support races, lead to this being the only Modern event attended during the year!

Refreshingly it was back to old stuff in August with the Classic Sports Car Club’s Snetterton Sizzler meeting and the HSCC’s Oulton Park Gold Cup.  The Gold Cup meeting was back to it’s very best with Historic F2 machinery making a welcome return (something good to come out of the pandemic!) and it was Matthew Watts aboard his March 782 who claimed the prestigious trophy following an attritional second encounter of the weekend!  We were also treated to a pair of Historic Touring Car / Dunlop Saloon Car Cup races which are always worth a watch around the fabulous Cheshire circuit, and best of all the paddocks were finally open to the general public!!

Two trips to Mallory filled the first half of autumn’s action where a torrential morning downpour threatened to de-rail the Historic Sports Car Club meet.  Glorious afternoon sunshine and excellent efficiency ensured this only lead to delays and not cancellations however with Ben Simm’s charge through the field (only to be denied victory by Murray Shepherd’s excellent defensive display) in the Formula Ford 2000 race being the pick of the action. 

The excellent Classic Touring Car Racing Club would visit the same Leicestershire circuit in Mid October featuring a mouth-watering collection of machinery that included everything from the iconic 60’s Mini to the monster Aussie V8 Ford Falcon. Nothing quite beats a good old David vs Goliath pre-66 touring car race however and the two races on the day provided everything you come to expect from this era of racing; Alan Greenhalgh taking victory in the second race aboard his Ford Falcon after losing out to the much smaller engined Anglia of Robyn Slater (in part due to an off) in a damp race 1, brilliant racing!

Although far from a fan of Silverstone (not the circuit, more the unfriendly Security and archaic ticketing system) I could not fail to be drawn to the new standalone Motor Racing Legends meeting at the end of October. The 1 hour Historic Touring Car Challenge brought back many a childhood memory as Paul Mensley (RS500) managed to fend off not 1 but 3 temperamental Skylines to take victory whilst the excellent 43 car, 3 hour Pall Mall cup race met all expectations as the fabulous James Cottingham / Max Girardo piloted Lister Jaguar Costin managed to hold off a plethora of Shelby Cobra’s to take an unlikely victory. Maybe the unwelcoming nature of the circuit is a thing of the past as this had been a highlight of the season, partially aided by full access to the ‘Wing’ with less than a couple of hundred people in attendance!

And finally, after a pandemic induced year and 9 month period away from rallying, I eventually managed to see a live stage or 2 on the end of season Roger Albert Clark Rally. In an event unfortunately impacted by the devastating storm Arwen (Scotland’s stages completely cancelled), Ryan Champion and Craig Thorley remarkably managed to break the Blue Oval strangle hold on the event by claiming victory in their immaculate Porsche 911. Whilst disappointing not to be able to make the bi-annual trip into the Southern Scotland forests it was great to see action on the stages again.

All in it was year to remember and we can only hope that 2022 brings with it more freedom, definitely more rallying and a return to somewhere near the motorsport life we were all accustom to pre March 2020!

HSCC – Mallory Park – September 2021

The Historic Sports Car Club Contingent taking on the extremely unique Mallory Park was an opportunity I was not willing to miss, even if entry levels were a little on the low side.  With a yellow warning of rain also given out for Sunday’s action it promised to be an interesting outing at the Leicestershire circuit.

Sure enough rain started to fall just before arrival and steadily worsened to an extent that Historic F3 qualifying was red flagged and over an hour’s delay was required to allow the circuit to become drivable again!

Such is the crazy nature of the weather at the moment however that by the time racing commenced at 1pm the only evidence of such a downpour were a few puddles around the circuit perimeter and the odd wet run off area, with blue skies greeting the Midget and Sprite Challenge runners.

Carnage is probably the most appropriate word for what would then take place as the first red flag was waved almost as soon as the lights turned green; a collision between Martin Morris, David Morrison and Edward Weston wiping out 75% of the front two rows of the grid.  And it wasn’t long before the red flag was out again following a nasty collision with the John Cooper Esses tyre wall for Hugh Simpson, thus ending proceedings after just 4 minutes of racing. 

In the meantime, polesitter Paul Sibley (MG Midget), courtesy of being the sole remaining class A runner left, had still managed to develop a 7 second winning margin over Pippa Cow’s class E leading Healey Sprite and class D victor, Tom Walker’s, similar machine.

Exceptional work by the Mallory support staff would ensure the first Historic F3 race would commence with little delay and it would be Ian Bankhurst aboard his Alexis Mk8 who lead the early stages before polesitter Sam Wilson would eventually find a way back past.

Both would soon be concerned by the rapid progress of Jeremy Timms from a lowly 8th place starting position however; The Chevron B15 pilot carving his way through the field to take the lead by half distance and claim an excellent victory by over 2 seconds. With Wilson forced into retirement after a spin, Bankhurst would find himself on the second step of the podium whilst Steve Seaman (Brabham BT21) would set fastest lap of the race on his way to third.

Timms would later complete a victory double after again falling behind Bankhurst at the start! Bankhurst meanwhile just managed to stave off challenges from Wilson and Mike Walker to again claim the runner up spot whilst Walker, aboard his Brabham BT21, would this time round out the podium positions after Wilson’s late retirement.

Historic Formula Ford 2000 machinery lapping Mallory Park was an eagerly anticipated sight and I would not be disappointed.  Courtesy of retiring from race 1 of the weekend, usual front runner Benn Simms would start from 18th on the grid but was upto 3rd in next to no time at all.  Murray Shepherd, aboard his class D none points scoring Van Diemen, proved just too difficult to pass however with Simms trying every which way to demote the race 1 winner to third.  And Shepherd’s race long defensive heroics would ultimately earn him a second victory of the weekend after long time race leader Ian Pearson dropped back late on with his Royale stuck in 3rd gear; a real shame after Pearson’s exceptional lap 1 pass around the outside of Gerard’s!

Whilst the Historic Touring Car entry was disappointingly a little on the sparce side, race 1 at least still proved to be an entertaining affair with Mike Gardiner and Neil Wood locked in a race long battle for top spot; a tussle which Gardiner ultimately won as Wood’s Anglia didn’t quite have the legs to slip past his Lotus Cortina. Mighty qualifying performances in the wet had seen Roger Godfrey take pole in his Mini from the Singer Chamois of Steve Platts. However, with a dry race in prospect, they would find themselves battling it out for the final step on the podium, with Platts nipping past at the hairpin on lap 2 before Godfrey was forced into retirement in the latter stages.

With Gardiner a none starter for race 2, Neil Wood would claim a comfortable race 2 victory whilst Robin Ellis (BMW 1800 Ti) and Paul Wallis (Alfa Giulia Sprint GT) would round out the respective podium positions.

In a much less dramatic second encounter for the Midget and Sprite Challenge runners, Martin Morris provided a glimpse of what might have been as the back row starting Midget man charged through to second place in a relatively short space of time!  Unfortunately for Morris however, Paul Sibley had already developed a commanding lead allowing the series returnee to claim a comfortable second race win of the weekend.  Behind, Pippa Cow would round out the race 2 podium positions with a second class E victory of the weekend.

As anticipated, Mark Charteris was in a league of his own during a pair of Classic Clubman races. The Mallock MK20/21 pilot taking 2 commanding victories whilst also setting fastest race lap of the day with a very rapid 45.072! Dave Facer meanwhile would claim double class B victory, the Mallock MK16 pilot just edging out Tom Muirhead on both occasions.

And in what felt like no time at all I had made the short journey home and was scoffing my tea. Miraculously the organisers had managed to shoe horn 9 races into just 4 afternoon hours, which was pretty good going considering the red flag was required on three separate occasions. This a stark contrast to what felt like hours of waiting around in the morning for the torrential rain to eventually subside.

Hopefully a little more consistent weather will be on offer for my next outing which is scheduled to be the Classic Touring Car Race Club meeting at the very same circuit. See you soon Mallory!

May Spring Bank Magic at Mallory Park

Despite living within an hour of Mallory Park I had somehow never managed to visit the smaller of Leicestershire’s two circuits.  And so the Classic Touring Car Racing Club meeting on May Spring Bank Holiday Monday was the perfect opportunity to put right this wrong.

15 minutes sessions, be it qualifying or racing, was the flavour of the day, which was exactly what the doctor ordered around the short 1.35 mile circuit on yet another red hot UK bank holiday weekend!  And after a highly entertaining qualifying session in which pole position changed multiple times it was with great anticipation that the Group 1 pre 83 Touring cars lined up for the first race of the day.

Pole position may have gone the way of 2017 champion Stephen Primett in his MK1 Escort, however it was the more powerful Jaguar XJ12 of David Howard that lead the field into Gerard’s and crucially the Triumph Dolomite Sprint of Mark Osborne that grabbed second (courtesy of superior track position) at the John Cooper Esses.  I say crucially as even though both the Dolomite and Escort eventually found a way passed the ‘big cat’ on lap 3, Primett could not break down the defences of a very finely driven Triumph; thus leaving Osborne to claim an impressive race 1 victory.

And Osborne looked to be well on the way to claiming a second victory when Primett lost time behind the, again, fast starting XJ12 early in race 2.  However a series of fast laps by the reigning champion brought the MK1 right onto the tale of the race 1 winner.  But just as the moderate crowd were anticipating another fantastic duel, an ailing Rover P6 3500 managed to block the Dolomite at the exit of Gerard’s on lap 11 allowing Primett to slip by on the Stebbe Straight.  A win a piece perhaps a fair result on reflection.

The pre 93, 03 and 05 Touring Car grids were combined on the day, with the 30 car grid for race 1 perhaps a little too busy for the short East Midlands circuit.  It was therefore no real surprise that 5 laps of the first race were lost behind a safety car.

It would be pole sitter Ray West at the front of the train when the track returned to green however, having crucially regained the lead at the John Cooper Esses before the safety car halted proceedings.  And the BMW man proved just too quick for the rest of the field at the re-start; West then maintaining a comfortable gap over his rivals to claim race 1 victory.  Behind, Steve Barden’s Honda Civic and Simon Ward’s Astra GTE would round out the podium positions.

West and Barden were also the leading contenders in race 2, before both were handed a 10 second penalty for jump starts.  This only appeared to spur West on however; the 13 second gap over 3rd place at the flag ensuring he took his second win of the weekend by a nett 3 second margin.  Barden on the other hand couldn’t quite build enough of a gap to hold onto second, leaving the Astra of Simon Ward to claim the runner up spot with Barden this time having to settle for third.

A great variety of machinery was on display for the combined Classic Thunder & Blue Oval Series Saloon races but it was the very quick Subaru Impreza of Dale Gent which proved near unbeatable in both events.  With superior cornering speed, the awesome Alfa Romeo 33 of Adrian Hawkins was able to keep pace initially however the Subaru had the edge in traffic.  Gent easily setting fastest lap of the day in race 2 with a mega rapid 47.398.

Of the Blue Oval Series crews it was the 2.3 litre MK2 Escort of Piers Grange who would top the time sheets on both occasions; a 5th and 6th place finish for the long time Ford man representing a good day’s work.

Race 1 for the Pre-66 Touring Cars offered up a classic multi class battle, synonymous with this era of tin top racing, starring the pole sitting Ford Falcon of Alan Greenhalgh, Lotus Cortina of David Hall and a very well turned out Imp in the hands of David Heale.

In fact it was Heale’s Imp which would lead into Gerard’s on lap 1 courtesy of a stonking start from the second row of the grid.  However the sheer straight line speed advantage of the Falcon allowed Greenhalgh to re-claim top spot by the time the cars emerged from Devils elbow.  And despite not being able to break away, the chasing pack couldn’t quite get close enough through the slower parts of the circuit to mount a challenge, leaving Greenhalgh to take a well controlled victory.

The battle behind was far less clear cut however, with Hall’s Cortina losing out to the Mini of Neil Bray at Gerard’s on lap 3 before regaining the position by the end of the lap and then ensuring he would stand on the second step of the podium by grabbing second from the Imp 2 laps later.

With the Falcon a no show in the second race it would be the Imp that had the upper hand in the day’s penultimate event.  Having lost out to Heale again at the start, Hall appeared to be building up to a late charge before falling back in heavy traffic; the more nimble Imp able to take advantage, break the tow, and record a relatively comfortable 5 second victory.  Meanwhile, Neil Bray would eventually find a way passed the Anglia of Michael Sheraton to claim the final podium position in his Mini Cooper.

The Hyundai Coupe Cup was also part of an excellent BARC race day and the competition could not have been closer between the leading three machines of 2017 champion Alex Cursley, Wayne Rockett and Steve Kite.  Kite has been the man to beat in 2018 however and it was he who  leapt into an early race 1 lead before putting in a stellar defensive drive to keep Rockett and pole sitter Cursley at bay; the top 3 drivers covered by just 0.6 seconds as they crossed the line!

With race 1 finishing order dictating the grid for race 2, pole sitter Steve Kite found himself relegated to third by turn 1, with Cursley snatching the lead at the John Cooper Esses.  And whilst Cursley was able to maintain top spot for the remainder of the race, Rockett found himself relegated to third when Kite managed to sneak down the inside at the Shaw’s Hairpin on lap 3.

After such a good day out, especially for the very reasonable admission price of just £13, I won’t be waiting another 30 odd years to make a second visit to the South Leicestershire venue.  Whilst I love the big international meetings there is something about the access of a good old fashioned clubbie that make the events just as appealing.  Throw in some great racing at a circuit where the spectator banks allow upto 90% of the circuit to be viewed at any one time and you have the recipe for a great day out.  I am already looking to shoe horn the Classic Sports Car Club October meeting into my diary!