One or two of the regulars were still absent for various reasons,
Cheng still building his secret weapon for next year, Nick
Taylor's car was still not finally back together although
Ian did say that they could have rushed it and possibly got
it together but in view of the recent expensive costs of engine
blow up's decided to let common sense prevail, so it will
be next season before Nick takes up the battle again. John
Dickson was apparently enjoying himself at Spa so another
missing Cobra, Andy Lambert still lamenting the cost of his
Cobra engine rebuild (and the three hungry mouths he has had
to give priority to this year), but should be with us next
season. In addition there were some others that for valid
reasons were forced into taking a back seat this year, all
of whom were missed at this the final race.
Our practice was delayed for just a few minutes as someone
in the previous grid had deposited a trail of oil through
the latter part of Gerrards onto the back straight. This was
duly dusted with cement and the track cleared for our guys
to go out. It was evident that early on the drivers were mindful
of the place where the oil had gone down and were taking no
risks, but gradually getting into the job of setting a time.
It didn't take too long for Andy Hiley running in the Invitation
Class in the Taydec Mk2 to start putting in some strong laps
and go on to set himself up for pole. The usual gaggle of
Crossle's started to speed the pace up with Gwyn Pollard and
Gary Wilson laying claim to their places at the front of the
grid in 2nd and 3rd closely followed by Mike Walker. Then
came Clint and Mark Jordan splitting Ken Culverwell's Mamba
and the remaining Crossle's and then the remainder of the
field. A good effort from John Suckling and Adam Wilkinson
put them in 10th and 11th and they being the first of the
class D runners ahead of the guys from class C.
just when you thought it was safe to call it a day the inevitable
happened and the spectre of the oil trail reared its head.
Michael Shoobridge had been circulating well in the Elan and
told me later he was feeling everything was going well. So
well that with 12 laps under his belt decided to do just one
more when disaster. Coming out of Gerrards on this final tour
he got onto the oil to which the car responded by putting
its wheels on the grass which created the slide that put him
into the tyre wall. Fortunately Michael got out of the car
with little more than a good shaking up, but the car was not
over most people retired to the hospitality suite overlooking
the start line to enjoy the comfort of some decent seats and
the delicious variety of food that had been organised. This
end of the season gesture has become a feature of our race
year and with such good food and company the room quickly
filled up with our drivers and their families and guests.
There were all the usual stories and reminiscences of daring
do and who's doing what and where that filled the time up
to the start of our race.
It was not long before the D type of Jerry Knight, who had
been going better than in practice, pulled off after six laps
with clutch problems. The following lap saw Ken Culverwell's
Mamba pull off the circuit after mixing it with the Crossle's.
Things then started to settle with Andy Hiley making the running
at the front and Clint and Mark Jordan doing their best to
break up the Crossle's. There were numerous battles going
on down the field with some spirited driving from Roger Donnan
and Adam Wilkinson in the little Westfield 11. These two cars
seemed to be well suited to the nature of the Mallory layout.
Falce was also putting on a show doing battle with Graham
Paddick for around 6 laps; Tim's effort could be best seen
at the Hairpin he was virtually swapping paint as he drifted
around the apex with more than a hint of sideways in determined
mood to get past which he finally did whilst going into Gerrards.
Despite this valiant effort on lap 14 he had to give it best
as the radiator header tank could take no more and decided
to let its contents out literally giving Tim an early shower.
But this sort of close racing ran throughout the field as
the leaders started to infiltrate the back markers. The short
nature of Mallory of course brings this situation around fairly
quickly especially when you add in the speed differential
of around 18 miles an hour between the fastest and slowest
front meanwhile, Gary Wilson was showing some of the skills
honed over many seasons, driving the Crossle and taking the
fight to the Cobras. Clint to keep things in check until lap
19 when his Cobra cried enough and he retired. Seeing two
Taydec's in the same race these days is quite unusual, which
it seemed also gave John Suckling a desire not to let Andy
Hiley take all the glory, John keeping his Taydec in front
of the mainly Class C Jaguars and putting up fastest lap in
Class D just a second quicker than Adam. Tim Burnett was close
behind John followed by Graham Paddick, local legend John
Arnold and Richard Hobden in his immaculate Revival D-type.
With about twenty minutes of the half hour race gone it suddenly
came over the tannoy that one of the cars had caught fire
at the hairpin and as we looked across towards that end of
the circuit the pall of smoke could be seen rising. With the
race red flagged we waited to hear who was involved, after
a few moments the announcement clarified that it was the Hawk
Stratos of Roger Donnan that was on fire. The cars by now
had managed to filter down to the grid and were waiting for
further instruction. It was decided that the race had gone
long enough for the organisers to declare the race over with
twenty three laps completed by the leaders.
a short while we saw the Stratos being towed back to the paddock
looking from the outside as though there was nothing wrong.
It transpired that one of the drive shaft gaiters had caught
fire possibly after the cv joint had overheated causing Roger
to spin but with the ability to park it in the portable chicane
just after the hairpin where the Fire Marshalls had duly dealt
with the fire. In fact the car looked as though it had suffered
little damage apart from the fire damage drive shaft and gaiter
apart from the liberal coating of extinguisher powder that
covered most of the engine. Thankfully Roger was OK although
rather despondent, not just because it had put paid to a rather
fine and probably satisfying drive but he like Michael Shoobridge
had decided time had come to sell the car in favour of a new
mount for next year
does make you wonder whether our cars do sometimes have a
sixth sense about these things don't you think?
onto the prize giving and what a turnout of people, the room
was full and buzzing with chatter, as everyone waited the
announcements. Nigel firstly introduced us to our two special
guests, Zoe Rudder, daughter of Jane and Gabriella Clinkard
whose late father Tony was a stalwart of the series for many
years. Gabriella had come along to meet some of the people
who had raced alongside her father in our series hoping to
learn more about his exploits and meet some of his friends.
Andy Hiley had won the race on the track, as an Invited guest
he unfortunately was not eligible for the rather fine trophy
that was on offer, this was awarded to a rather happy looking
Mark Jordan who had managed to keep his car ahead of Gary
Wilson with only 0.65 secs separating them at the red flag.
Instead Andy Hiley was awarded the very special and may I
say handsome looking SRGT umbrella that will serve to remind
him of the friendly banter he received from the assembled
were handed out to all the class winners and runners up and
then the other special trophies were also awarded to the much
surprised Gary Wilson Jerry Knight and Nick Ledger, all receiving
light hearted ribbing and well deserved applause for their
efforts on the day and during the year. Being the last race
of the season it seemed as though some of the recipients took
a special delight in their achievements, not least of which
was John Arnold and his wife who were presented with the Special
Tea cosy Award for services in the field after a small fire
involving a toaster whilst brewing tea at Spa had destroyed
their old one.
in all a good day and a fitting end to the 2007 season and
it should be said with a fair eye to next year when many of
our drivers that have been absent this year are set to return
and as we understand it so new drivers that have been contacting
us with a view to taking up the challenge next season.
My final paragraph is devoted to those who have worked in
the background all year to keep us racing, tirelessly Nigel,
the Jane's, Barbara, Tim Falce and the others have again put
in hours of work and help that most of us do not see. So to
all of you from all of us a very big thank you.