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Oulton Park Race Reports

Our Oulton Park Classic Cheshire Challenge day took place last Saturday, 27th April 2024. It brought out the very best in club racing. Strong, varied grids, dry(ish) weather, large numbers of Marshals and all on a fantastic ribbon of 'international' tarmac.


This report bring you results, photos, a video and not one, but two race reports in different styles.


Let's start with a very valuable use of 2 1/2 minutes of your life, another of Marc Peters wonderful highlights videos.



 

David Stallard captured every minute of track action to memory card, from every vantage point he is allowed to visit. Check out his photos throughout this report, plus a link to his gallery in time order, where you can purchase photos you like:

 

Check out full results here. To view a more detailed analysis and pit-stop times for your race, click on 'view pdf book' underneath the title of your race.

 

With his own unique take on the event, we welcome back John Aston. John has previously written fascinating reports for the club some years back, is a valued member of the Event Steward team and a skilled author.


As I passed the signs to Liverpool, en route to Oulton Park I wondered if raceday’s Beatles song would be George’s Here Comes the Sun, or John’s Rain. As it turned out, it was a bit of both, with a bright cold morning giving way to a grey and sometimes drizzly afternoon. But with the CSCC trademark of big and varied grids, a good time was had by almost all, and George Harrison’s optimism won the day. And what was Rain really about anyway, John?


But I did wonder what the hell was going on when I arrived at the circuit. Good though they are, CSCC meetings don't normally attract this much media attention. There was a whole bevy of TV camera wielding media folk milling round a not very tall guy in the pit lane. It was former Top Gear and Grand Tour star Richard Hammond who was racing his MGB GT, and what a nice guy he turned out to be, as you'll see later.


It's a year or two since I've done a CSCC report as I've been on steward duties and while I’d love to share some gossip, I’m sworn to secrecy. What happens in the stewards’ room stays in the stewards’ room, right? But I can share one secret - so well behaved are the CSCC bunch that stewards need to take a good book, because we’re not kept too busy. And look, I don't do conventional race reports, so if you really want to know that minutiae of the top ten, fastest laps and grid order can I introduce you to my friend TSL, who never forgets a single fact and read Joe Perry's race report further down? What I do try to achieve is to describe the look and feel of a race meeting, so I’ll talk about the encounters I had with race cars and their owners over the day. There's no plan - I just talked to whoever looked interesting and available. I hope you enjoy the read.


The Cheshire Challenge was going to be busy, with no fewer than nine races, some for single chassis, like the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge and others where age (car, not driver) was almost the only criterion. So the Adams and Page Swinging 60s race had a hugely varied grid. Where else are you going to see an Austin A40 sharing track space with an Aston Martin DB4 and a Morgan +8? And - cripes- a Triumph Vitesse.


But the first car I noticed in the paddock was the lovely Morgan of Wiltshire driver Nigel Stuckey. He told me that his V6 powered Mog can boast about 235 bhp - ‘it’s a Roadster Lightweight; they only built about thirty, specially for the racetrack, but it’s roadgoing too.’ Nigel tells me that he had a Ferrari 488GTB which was only doing 800 miles a year until he saw the light and bought a motorhome, trailer and a Morgan. Hopes for the race? ‘Not to be last!’. He avoided that fate in qualifying but sadly had two DNFs . Better luck next time.


Photo Joseph Perry


If I wasn't on scribbling duty, I’d have given Hammond a wide berth because I'm sure he wearies of his day being punctuated by people wanting selfies or chats. But duty calls and Richard was happy to chat for a few minutes in the pit garage. And here's the thing - everybody in TV must play larger than life versions of themselves but in the flesh Hammond was just another weekend racer, quietly spoken and polite. And this is what he had to say. ‘This was the last car I drove on Top Gear and I thought to push my classic car business I should take it racing. This is the first drive I've ever had in it. Driving cars for TV is what I do but this is very different, I’m here alongside other people doing the same thing. It’s a very different vibe, you’re part of a gang.’ This looks like your car started life before big bumpers ruined the’ B’ look? ‘ Yes, this was originally a chrome bumper BGT and no, it doesn’t have overdrive, which I regret! I think we’ve got about 130bhp and people do come past me on the straights but it’s something I want to do more of. Don’t tell my wife Mindy that. Actually, I did give the car to her as a birthday present ... It could do with a limited slip diff really and it handles sort of weirdly with lots of lift off oversteer. I’m used to that with front wheel drive but it’s nearly caught me out already. I’ve got a lot to learn.’ In the Swinging 60s race Richard enjoyed a fabulous dice with John Davies’ Vitesse and I think the learning process is well under way. He’ll be back at Silverstone GP.


Like the late Mike Hawthorn, who gives his name to the Jaguar Challenge race, Toby Smith is a Surrey man who drives a very sexy Jag. Toby’s big cat is a Mark I 3.4, and he’s racing with father- in- law Nigel Webb, a man synonymous with racing Jaguars. ‘This is an ex -Tommy Sopwith car and was campaigned by Ivor Bueb, who won Le Mans with Hawthorn. Round Oulton? It’s a real handful!’

Some say that Jags are fur coats with optional knickers, but Mark Cloutman’s Austin A 40 is pure blue collar. ‘I love the shape of them’. Mark’s been racing for five years, crashed the car in 2022 at Thruxton ‘so it’s now a very different car – lighter, different engine, changed suspension set up – and I’m relearning what it’s capable of. ‘


Then, in a corner of the paddock, I spot a car I’ve only ever seen in ancient Autocar's – a GSM Delta. Except, as Cape Town born Vaughan Thomas tells me, I’m only nearly right, as this car is even rarer – it’s a GSM alright, but a Dart, and it was born in South Africa too. As was F1 designer Gordon Murray, and I learn that he has a Dart too. Every day is a school day with CSCC...


At least I can recognise a Sunbeam Tiger, but when I show off my knowledge of engine choices Stephen Pickering politely points out it’s neither a 260 nor a 289 but a muscle bound 302- ‘with 350bhp at the wheels, but the brakes are challenged and so is the handling ‘. Yikes. Stephen will go on to race at the sharp end of the Adams and Page race. Intriguingly, it turns out that the Pickering clan is on a mission to keep the Rootes Group and Sunbeam names alive. There’s another Tiger at home, and Stephen tells me he’s always had an eye for Rapiers and Hunters.


And now I’m distracted by Keir Edmonds glorious Martini liveried 911 Carrera, looking like it has just won the 1973 Targa Florio, but I’m on a mission to find one more car before racing begins, Tim Reid’s wonderfully period looking Opel Commodore B/GSE. Doune resident and Marcos and Lola Mk 1 driver Tim had once seen a car like his race at Castle Combe and it was love at first sight. ‘I found this car in Germany, it’d been owned by Irmscher, and was then a revolting blue and yellow.’ Not any more, it is now resplendent in livery echoing an Opel which raced at Spa in 1974 and it looks just fantastic. ‘Still a bit slow, but it’s early days and I’m here to have fun’. Later on, in the Modern Classics and Advantage Motorsport race, I can report that it looked and sounded like it was reliving its glory days at Eau Rouge and Stavelot .


Well prepared cars are a given in CSCC but Sam Polley’s immaculate Mini Marcos is just stunning. Rescued from a breakers’ yard and four years’ work later it now positively glows in its duck egg blue and maroon livery. God knows how 6-4 tall Sam even fits inside (‘It’s a challenge, and I sit in the back basically.’) Lovely to see the whole family so clearly enjoying their day at the races with the Ugly Duckling Marcos now looking like a princess. Sam told me before the race that the car needed a lot of driver input – but having seen it spear through Cascades visibly faster than just about every car in the race all I can say is wow …

Oulton Park is placed firmly in Cheshire Housewives territory, but you won’t find many Bentley Bentaygas or blinged up AMG Mercedes at this Oulton meeting. As I walk down to Cascades to watch the races, I’m struck again by how many superbly restored classics are to be seen in the public car parks. I’m distracted by a lovely Dino 246, a time warp Mk 1 Lotus Cortina, and then a Lister XJS but I will take home the stunning red TVR Griffith 200 – I doubt it has ever looked this good, even when it left Blackpool in 1966.The orange Austin A35 with a rat rod vibe? Umm…there’s a car which turned heads.


Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge

If you’re a BMC A series aficionado, then this was the race for you. 22 Spridgets – soft tops, hardtops, Frogeyes, Speedwells, Sebrings and Dominic Mooney’s fourth place Ashley (in BRM homage colours) – brawled and diced for an entertaining 20 minutes. Although winner Martin Morris finished 10 seconds ahead of Hugh Simpson, in a pattern that was to last all afternoon, the racing in mid-field and lower was frenetic. The two Sebrings driven by Mike Henney and Andy Booth seemed almost inseparable for much of the race. Cue grins all round in the spectator area. The second race was another Morris benefit, but Simpson endured a DNF with Ian Burgin’s Sprite in second and Mooney third.

Mintex Classic K and Mike Hawthorn Jaguar Challenge

With engines ranging from a 1293 cc four (you guessed- an A Series) to a 4727 cc (the iconic Ford 289 V8) and a host of snarly sixes in the Jaguars this was a treat for the ears. And the eyes too – how did the Bell /Ferguson Mini Cooper S stay in front of Jamie Boot’s magnificent TVR Griffith, with mite besting might? But Colin Chapman’s ‘added lightness' enabled Malcolm Johnson’s immaculately driven Elan GTS to take the win. The last time I saw father and daughter Graham and Jennifer Ridgway they were in FF2000, but today another Elan GTS was their choice, and a well- earned fourth place their reward. The GSM Dart didn’t trouble the leader board, but it was thrown into Cascades with brio, and I think also won the biggest prize for a pitstop penalty. Cape Town time? And what about Richard Hall-Griffin’s Triumph SLR, there’s a car which looks more Modena than Coventry. And the Jaguars? Well, they slid, snarled and bellowed and all I can say about Bruce McWhirter’s sterling drive to take the class win - chapeau!


The Morgan Challenge

This grid was pure Worcestershire Hop. The cars may have looked similar but the ears told a different story, with a Morgan miscellany of brawly V8s, howling V6s and a couple of straight fours. One car – Louis Ruff’s very rapid Plus 4 - was even turbocharged, which is very 21st Century stuff for Malvern Link. I don’t always enjoy single-make series, but Morgans are the exception. Owners show fierce loyalty to the marque and when you see them race you can see why, because it looks a hoot. Open cockpits with cutaway doors mean you can see some serious arm and elbow work, especially in the 400bhp per tonne class. Keith Ahlers’s Plus 8 was almost comically fast, and if I say that the big power Mogs make me think of half-timbered Can Am cars, that is a compliment. Ahlers won both races from Russell Paterson’s Plus 8 and it truly was Morgantics at their best.

Adams and Page Swinging 60s

A full grid of 38 cars ready for action and another two hopeful reserves in the pitlane. The skies were greying but the first lap brightened everyone’s mood. My notes record that the Pickering Tiger deployed its full 350bhp to take the lead, from Steve Hodges’ white Lotus Seven, leaving thirty something cars fighting over third into Cascades, and they were still ducking and diving into Knickerbrook a minute later .The Mini Marcos was absurdly fast, and the pace of Neil Armstrong’s svelte little Ginetta triggered some oohs and aahs of admiration from the old boy standing next to me. And is there anything more delicious than watching an urchin of a Frogeye Sprite jink and feint in its pursuit of an aristocratic Aston Martin DB4? I doff my hat to Ian Burgin and Nicholas King for that scrap. And, whisper it, the Sprite ended up in ninth place, two in front of the Aston. Penalties muddied the order, drizzle slicked the track, the Pickering Tiger ran out of breath and slipped to sixth. Which meant, after a frantic 40 minutes, that it was the lightweights which prevailed, with the Lotus Seven and Mini Marcos in P1 and P2 and Chris Watkinson’s 1380cc Mini taking third.


MG Trophy and Berkshire Jag Components Jaguar Championship

I have a friend who worships at the Altar of the Octagon, because very few marques attract such feverish loyalty as MG. I’d mistakenly thought that true disciples would shun the latest SAIC Motor Group iteration of the brand as Shanghai is a long way east of Longbridge. Not a bit of it, because an MG’s birthplace doesn’t seem matter on jot , and the sight of Stewart Robertson’s very fast turbocharged MG 3 among a ruck of MG ZRs was proof. The MG racers shared track space with their erstwhile cousin from British Leyland, the XJS, and a bunch of later Jags including XJ40s and XJ8s.The two marques were a boisterous bunch, with the MGs showing serious pace on the corners while the Jaguars stretched their legs on Oulton’s short straights. And crikey they were noisy, with the high revving MGs the tenors and the rumbling Jag V8s and sixes the baritones, some in harmony with supercharger sopranos.

The Jaguars started behind the MGs this time, but even in the slippery conditions Colin Philpott’s 4 litre XJS had caught the leading MG group by lap four. Philpott won the first race overall, with Graham Ross’s ZR taking a very creditable fourth overall. The second race was the last of the day, and was won by Tom Lenthall’s mean grey XJS, with Philpott runner up. And Ross won again in the ZR, from the new- fangled MG 3.

Modern Classics and Advantage Motorsport Future Classics

The theme of this race was quality, if not huge quantity, with as many as 15 regulars taking part in the CSCC races at Spa, this same weekend. A connoisseur’s race perhaps, with sundry Porsches (front, mid and rear engined), Stuart Daburn’s TVR Tuscan and a diverse supporting act. I did enjoy Richard Hayes’ flame spitting Toyota Supra, a car which epitomised mid Eighties chic. This was his father's car that has raced in Future Classics from day 1, brought in as a substitute here, after his Celica GT4 experienced issues before the event. You could almost hear Sade and Duran Duran on the cassette player.

Dice of the race was between the Paul Dolan BMW 325i and Geoff Beale’s Talbot Sunbeam – they even pitted simultaneously and were racing again as soon as they left the pit lane. Impressive drives from both resulted in second and third, with the Sunbeam eking out a 4 second margin at the flag. But Blackpool rocked to victory, with the grey Tuscan having enjoyed a long scrap with the Lenthall Jaguar until a pit stop penalty demoted the Jag from an on the road second place. This was of course two separate races taking place on the same piece of tarmac, such was the lead Lenthall had, he still took overall Modern Classics glory, despite the hefty penalty.

The Verdict

A healthy-sized crowd enjoyed consistently good, and sometimes enthralling racing from a terrific selection of cars. Driving standards looked high from where I was standing, and the marshals showed their customary expertise. Incidentally, I saw more young marshals than I have for years, which can only augur well . A final word of praise from me for the commentary team – it’s a job I couldn’t do to save my life. The expertise and good humour shown by Messrs Buxton and Fullbrook added to everyone’s enjoyment. ‘So…wind them up ….and …let…. them GO!! ’ – I couldn’t have put it better myself .

John Aston

 

In the second of our two race reports, multi-talented CSCC Social Media reporter and Committee Member, Joseph Perry, tries his hand at capturing the event results.


As the rising sun brightened the Cheshire sky, Oulton Park began to awake, as an action packed day of racing lay ahead for the Classic Sports Car Club.

Qualifying: 

In the first of the qualifying sessions of the day, James Hughes took pole, driving the Austin Healey Frogeye Sprite in the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge, with a time of 2:01.296, closely followed by Martin Morris in the MG Midget and Ian Burgin in his Austin Healey Sprite Mk1.

 

In the Mintex Classic K and Mike Hawthorn Jaguar Challenge, Malcom Johnson took overall pole in the Lotus Elan GTS with a time of 2:01.330, followed by the driver pairing of Graham and Jennifer Ridgeway, also in a Lotus Elan GTS, with a time of 2:02.362. Glenn Pearson and Peter Dorlin took the pole in the Mike Hawthorn Jaguar Challenge in the Jaguar Mk1, with a time of 2:12.151.

 

The Morgan Challenge roared into life, with Keith Ahlers taking pole in the rumbling Morgan Plus 8, followed by Russell Patterson in second and Louis Ruff in third.

 

Colin Philpott topped the session with a time of 1:54.715 in his Jaguar XJS in the combined session for the Berkshire Jag Components Jaguar Championship and MG Trophy, with the MG ZR of Graham Ross completing a lap of the Oulton Park tarmac in 1:57.977, putting him pole in the MG Trophy.

 

Another combined session next, with the 90's Modern Classics and 70's/80's Advantage Motorsport Future Classics, which saw Stuart Daburn in his TVR Tuscan Challenge lap the Oulton Park circuit in a time of 1:52.384, claiming a Future Classics pole, with Tom Lenthall in the Jaguar XJS claiming a Modern Classics pole with a time of 1:57.324.

 

 

Races:

The Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge completed the first race of the day, with Martin Morris in the MG Midget crossing the line in first place and taking the fastest lap, with a time of 1:59.269. Hugh Simpson took the chequered flag in second place in his MG Midget, with Dean Stanton in the Austin Healey Sprite finishing third.

 

Class A winner: Martin Morris

Class C winner: Ian Burgin

Class D winner: Hugh Simpson

Class H winner: Dominic Mooney

 

After the lunch break, the combined grid for the Mintex Classic K and Mike Hawthorn Jaguar Challenge took to the track. Malcolm Johnson in the Lotus Elan GTS took the overall race win, with Tom Bell & Joe Ferguson in the Austin Mini Cooper S claiming second, and Jamie Boot in the TVR Griffin crossing the line in third.

 

Mintex Classic K

Class CA winner: Malcolm Johnson

Class CB winner: Jamie Boot

Class CD winner: Allan Ross-Jones

Class CF winner: Mike Stephenson

Class CG winner: Tom Bell & Joe Ferguson

Class CM winner: Andrew Tate & Rob Griffiths

 

Mike Hawthorn Jaguar Challenge

1st - Darren McWhirter, Jaguar MK 1

2nd - Bruce McWhirter, Jaguar MK 2

3rd - Glen Pearson, Jaguar MK 1

Class JB winner: Toby Smith

Class JE winner: Glen Pearson

Class JF winner Bruce McWhirter

Class JI winner: Darren McWhirter

 

In race one of two for the Morgan Challenge Series, Keith Ahlers crossed the line in first place driving his Morgan Plus 8, followed by Russell Paterson in second and Andrew Thompson in third, both driving a Morgan Plus 8.

 

Class 1 winner: Keith Ahlers

Class 2 winner: Russell Paterson

Class 3 winner: Elliot Paterson

Class 4 winner: Philip St Clair Tisdall

Class 5 winner: Will Bibb

 

Up next, the Adams and Page Swinging Sixties took to the Oulton Park circuit, with rain starting to fall. Steve Hodges claimed an overall win in the Lotus 7 Series 2, followed by the Mini Marcos of Sam Polley six seconds behind, despite an out of position start for both vehicles. Agonisingly, for those on the pit wall, we could see the cars slightly too far forwards of their grid box, but had no way of telling them with the grid forming up. Chris Watkinson claimed third in the Austin Mini, 17 seconds behind the Marcos of Sam Polley.

 

Class SA winner: Ian Staines

Class SB winner: Sam Polley

Class SC winner: Brent Fowler

Class SD winner: Julian Howe

Class SE winner: David Rose

Class SF winner: Christopher Edwards

Class SG winner: Nicholas King

Class SH winner: Andrew Williams

Class SL winner: Steve Hodges

Class SV winner: Stephen Pickering

 

After a strong qualifying session, Colin Philpott took a lights to flag victory for the Berkshire Jag Components Jaguar Championship in the Jaguar XJS. Jack Robinson crossed the line in second place, driving the Jaguar XK8, with Tom Lenthall taking third place in his Jaguar XJS.  

Berkshire Jag Components Jaguar Championship

Class JA winner: Andrew Harper

Class JB winner: Colin Philpott

Class JC winner: James Wall

Class JD winner: Colin Porter


In what was some fantastic, close driving, the MG Trophy put on a great show of well-presented race cars, Graham Ross driving the MG ZR claimed first place, with James Cole taking second and Tylor Ballard in third.

MG Trophy

Class MA winner: Graham Ross

Class MB winner: James Cole’s

Class MG3 winner: Stewart Robertson

 

The second race for the Lackford Engineering Midget & Sprite Challenge saw Martin Morris taking the overall race win in the MG Midget. Ian Burgin in the Austin Healey Sprite MK 1 took second, and Dominic Mooney in the MG Midget Ashley GT rounded out the top three. The race was cut short after Andrew Caldwell just put a wheel on the grass rounding the left-hand kink up Clay Hill. The Midget had a nasty impact with the barrier, bouncing back across the track into the path of Chris Winchester's Sprite. It was only the quick reactions of Chris that avoided a heavy impact with Andrew's door, thankfully Chris swerved right, onto the grass, striking the front end of Andrew's Midget. This triggered a red flag and inevitable delay, but with a relief that no serious injuries occurred.

 

Class A winner: Martin Morris

Class C winner: Ian Burgin

Class D winner: Dean Stanton

Class E winner: John Hughes

Class H winner: Dominic Mooney

 

The combined grid race of the Modern Classics and Advantage Motorsport Future Classics provided excellent entertainment throughout their slightly shorter than timetabled race. With recoveries taking longer than expected in earlier sessions, regrettably their race was shortened to 30 minutes. A sprinkling of rain in the opening stages kept drivers on their toes. In the Advantage Motorsport Future Classics, Stuart Daburn claimed a dominant win in the TVR Tuscan Challenge, with Geoff Beale in the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus second and Paul Dolan crossing the line third in the BMW E30 325i.

 

In the Modern Classics, Tom Lenthall’s Jaguar XJS took first, followed by the XK8 of Chris Boon and the Porsche Boxster of Tom Andrew in third.

 

Class FA winner: Stuart Daburn

Class FB winner: William & James Dingle

Class FC winner: Geoff Beale

Class FD winner: Daren Scholes & Steve Roberts

 

Modern Classics

Class MA winner: Tom Lenthall

Class MB winner: Tom Andrew

Class MD winner: Andrew Rollason

 

Race two for the Morgan’s and the penultimate of the day, with Keith Ahlers in the Morgan Plus 8 completing his perfect start to the season, with another race win, closely followed by Russell Paterson in the Morgan Plus 8, 2.3 seconds behind. Andrew Thompson took third, also in a Morgan Plus 8.

 

Class 1 winner: Keith Ahlers

Class 2 winner: Andrew Thompson

Class 3 winner: Elliot Paterson

Class 4 winner: Philip St Clair Tisdall

 


The final race of the day saw some great track action from the MG Trophy and the Berkshire Jag Components Jaguar Championship.

 

Tom Lenthall took the overall Jaguar race win, very closely followed by Colin Philpott in second place. Andrew Harper’s Jaguar S Type R claimed third.

 

In the MG Trophy, Graham Ross’ MG ZR took the win, with Stewart Robertson in second and James Cole in third. It was a pleasure to see the turbo-charged MG3 taking the fight to the ZR's.


Whilst the Jaguars and MGs might look odd bedfellows, all are in agreement that the similar lap times, split starts and co-operation between drivers is working well.

 

MG Trophy

Class MA winner: Graham Ross

Class MB winner: James Cole

Class MG3 winner: Stewart Robinson

 

Berkshire Jag Components Jaguar Championship

Class JA winner: Andrew Harper

Class JB winner: Tom Lenthall

Class JC winner: Michael Seabourne


As always, we extend our thanks to those who ensure our racing continues throughout the weekend, including the volunteers, that without, we would be unable to go racing. Joe Perry

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