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Classic Lines Lite

Contents: Brands GP entries open, Knockhill testing open, default 2nd drivers, test day refunds complete, our Chairman looks back at safety.

9th March 2021

Brands Hatch GP

Entries to the Co-ordSport Tin Tops race will open today at 11am. With British GT and Formula 3 as the headline, this event on 22nd May is going to be big, with doors by then open to spectators.

Costs are much higher on the Grand Prix circuit, despite this we have been able to keep the entry fee the same as we charged the Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens in 2019, £525.

You will have support from Stuart Levers and one of us from the office. More details such as timetable, overnight stays and more will follow in future weeks. Whilst not confirmed in the SR's, you will have a green flag lap and standing start (a chance to wave at your adoring fans).

Registered Tin Tops drivers may enter online, or by using the form on the dedicated event page: Here

Knockhill Testing

You may now book full day, afternoon and/or evening sessions on Friday 2nd July, split between slow, medium and fast cars. Each booking will feature both clockwise and anti-clockwise sessions, with briefing. Subject to any Covid restrictions the circuit anticipates overnight stays will be fine at the circuit. We are grateful to the Knockhill team for providing evening sessions, useful for those of you driving there on the Friday.

Book direct with the circuit, with prices from just £85 per car (no extra charge for a 2nd driver):

Default 2nd Drivers

Some of you always race with us as a 2 driver team. Our online booking system, RevUp allows you to add a default 2nd driver to make things easier for us all. However, if at a particular round you are on the grid with another CSCC series, it doesn't add your default second driver! To add them please follow page 2 of these instructions.

Please check the entry list that is produced the week before the event and tell us if it is wrong.


With Test Day refunds now completed, Hannah is now processing your Snetterton race entry refunds. This takes a considerable amount of time, so we are grateful for your patience. All going well these will be completed by the end of next week.

Then and Now! Or “Them were the Good Old Days” By John Hammersley, CSCC Chairman

Watching the fiery Roman Grosjean accident last year (one seriously lucky guy), got me thinking about how the safety improvements from F1 have filtered down into motorsport generally, and how much has changed since the first time I sat in a racecar. I bought my first racecar back in 1977, and my first full season was 1978. I know, I know, the old f*rt should know better!

When I looked at my shiny new (to me) 1600 Escort Sport, which had just finished runner-up in the Debenhams one make Escort championship I realised that maybe, just maybe, I may need to do a little testing, after all I had never actually driven on a race circuit before! No ARDS test in those days, get a medical, apply for a licence, and away you go, I know of several drivers whose first time in a race was in an F1 or F2 car.

The Circuits. My first test was at Mallory Park. In those days it was held on a Saturday morning, with ½ hour sessions for cars, and ½ hour sessions for motorbikes. The only problem they had was where to put the sidecar outfits. You guessed, out with the cars! It’s quite a surprise to see 2 crash helmets appear across the front of your vision in the middle of Gerrards, well at least I was safe in my car!

Casting my mind back I can recall arriving at Oulton Park for a test session, and we were the only one there. They unlocked the gate, let us in, took our money, (even in those days, 25 pieces of silver as I recall), locked the gates behind us and left! It was only as we unloaded the car did we realise that if (not when mind) I went off not only would nobody be aware, (no mobiles remember), but even if someone knew, they wouldn’t be able to get in. Also remember, back then Oulton had no run-offs anywhere, if you made the slightest mistake it would be punished by an unmovable earth bank.

Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s the very idea of a run-off area didn’t occur very often. Then some genius came up with idea of catch fencing! For those (numerous no doubt!) too young to remember, this consisted of rows of poles driven into the ground, around which was wrapped wire netting. The idea was that this acted as an arrestor, gradually slowing down any errant cars before they made contact with the barriers. Good in theory, but very bad in practice as cars became so entangled in chicken wire it could take ages to get them out. I once spent a very long 5 minutes or so trapped in a Formula Ford at Brands Hatch whilst the marshalls hacked away with wire cutters!

Communications weren’t so hot either. I once met the grass cutting tractor and trailer in the middle of the Gooseneck at Cadwell, he said as it was a quiet day he thought he would get on with a little mowing! There was also the beer delivery lorry coming the other way at Mondello Park, important though beer delivery is, I would rather they waited until testing was finished.

The Cars. We had harnesses, made compulsory a few years earlier, but no quick release was compulsory then, getting out of a 70’s era harness was not the work of seconds!

By the end of the 70’s, safety was being considered a little more, but we had a long way to go. The Escort came with a racing seat; however this was a low back affair finishing level with the shoulders. No thoughts of whiplash there! The seats themselves were flimsy affairs, generally welded tubular construction which folded up nicely on any side impact. I lost count of the number of broken collarbones drivers suffered when the seat broke and either the door or B post arrested their sideways motion. (No fool me; I had the back of all my seats bolted both ways to the roll cage, although on several occasions scrutineers questioned the legality of that modification!)

Silencing only became compulsory the year after I started, and believe me, even a 1600 Kent engine at 6000 rpm on an open exhaust which finishes level with your feet is seriously noisy. For days after a race all you could hear was – nothing! Probably explains my deafness! (And many other older racers as well!)

The old Escort (now a valuable classic, wish I’d known then!) had a vertical fuel tank in the boot up against the rear quarter panel. If the car went into anything backwards, generally with the brake lights on the rear of the car would rupture the tank, and the ensuing short from the brake lights would ensure a healthy fire. I can recollect seeing several Escorts lost to that type of accident.

Safety Equipment. I really wish now that I’d kept the 1970’s blue books, yes we had the blue book even then, parchment and quill affairs, much thinner than the current editions, and if anyone had said “what about putting it on disc” they would have assumed you were talking about some kind of new fangled braking system!

Overalls were compulsory, and I can recall something about them having to be clean and presentable, but fireproof, not necessary! Proban, (as used in some marshalls suits) was acceptable, but as this was basically treated cotton, after the first few washes all you had was – a cotton suit! They were cheap though!

There was a specification for helmets, but my memory is that it had to cover your head, and that about was all it said! I can well remember doing the 1980 British Saloon Car Championship (now BTCC), and Stirling Moss, (name dropper that I am!) was really put out when at some meetings they wouldn’t let him use his cork helmet, (Good enough in a Vanwall F1 car don’t you know old chap!)

In an attempt to improve safety in a fire some bright spark (pun intended!) decided that a positive pressure oxygen system, fed directly into the helmet, would allow the driver to remain conscious in the fire, and give extra time to get out. Hmmm! fire, oxygen, see if you can guess where the fire burned strongest? I once race a FF2000 car with this system (A Graviner I think it was called), and refused to connect it, whereupon I was threatened with exclusion. The system was removed shortly after!

We’ve come a long way. Catch fencing has become gravel traps, has become tarmac run-offs. Fire systems became Halon (Heaven Forbid!) then become AFFF, and then, well, lots better. Crash helmets have become high impact plastic, then Carbon/Kevlar. Overalls now allow you to sit in a fire for up to a minute, (but don’t try this out, it may not work, although Roman is happy about that progress!) If there is a downside it is that some drivers feel invincible in this modern age of safety, but as it still says on the tickets “Motorsport is dangerous”. Always has been, probably always will.

So dear reader, you decide. If you are still with me, and haven’t nodded off, were “Them the Good Old Days”?

John Hammersley, CSCC Chairman

If this item seems familiar, I must own up to it being a rehash of one what I wrote (apologies to Morecambe & Wise) a few years back. Being under house arrest and awaiting car bits to arrive have given me lots of spare time to, unusually for, me look back.




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