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Race Report: Special Saloons & Modsports at Oulton Gold Cup

At the very end of July the JMC Racing Special Saloons & Modsports brought excitement to the large Gold Cup crowds, many of whom listed our races as the highlight of the event.

Full results can be found at the bottom of this report, by clicking on the TSL Timing logo.

With David Stallard taking a well-earned break from snapping, we have (self-confessed amateur) photos this time from our Deputy Driver Representative, Dave Smith. CSCC Videographer Marc Peters also took some stills for us too. Marc has taken some video from your races, we are going to keep these clips for the end of season video, to preview at our November Dinner Dance. Thank you to Dave and all the drivers who took part in the static display and the races, you represented our club brilliantly and brought a lot of pleasure to the spectators. The great Tony Sugden is in our thoughts, his name adorning each trophy awarded to our drivers.

Life-long fan of Special Saloons & Modsports, Marcus Pye, was commissioned to produce a race report for the CSCC, thank you Marcus and over to you.

Oulton Park Gold Cup glory

MotorSport Vision boss Jonathan Palmer is proud of his Modsports racing roots 50 years ago [in ‘frog-eye’ Austin-Healey Sprite and three-litre Marcos GT], thus his invitation for the JMC Racing Special Saloons & Modsports circus to join Oulton Park’s Historic Gold Cup showcase on July 30-31 was personal. The response was magnificent. You guys and girls excelled on and off track, providing a remarkable 30-strong entry, superb paddock presence - ringmaster Dave Smith take a bow - and stunning action in the Tony Sugden Trophy races. Alongside the Pre-’66 Grand Prix Cars features, you were stars of the show judging by spectator reaction. Congratulations to Andy Southcott who won both races, albeit “saved by the red flag” in the second.

From the arrival of the first cars, there was a buzz of excitement at the scenic venue, hewn into an historic estate in an undulating part of Cheshire and opened to racing in 1953. Although an engine problem thwarted Andy Wilson’s plan to race the Tony Hazlewood originated DAF V8 - now immaculately restored, bewinged and back in Manchester Liners livery - he was delighted to reunite it with third owner Alan Minshaw, founder of the Demon Tweeks emporium which started in nearby Tattenhall. “Dad was gobsmacked,” said racer son Jon. Sadly 90-year-old legend ‘Suggy,’ who raced the car for Minshaw in DAF and Volvo guises, with two-litre BDX power, was unable to preside over his tribute races and paddock reunion, having undergone a major operation in Doncaster Hospital on the Friday.

Some competitors subscribed to testing and acclimatisation sessions on the Friday morning, during which Danny Morris’ Peugeot-Cosworth 309 GTi’s clutch grenaded. Rather than taking the easy option and heading for home, the indomitable Spirit of RPM pulled them through. A superhuman effort from Holmes Racing, sourced [from Silverstone], delivered by courier and installed a replacement before qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

Up from the south coast, housebuilder Andy Southcott was quickest in the official qualifying session, his scorching 1m 45.848s, best in the 2.7-litre Millington-engined tubeframe Lenham Sprite, overseen by builder Mike Johnston, an average of 91.55mph for the 2.692 mile International circuit. Putting Andy’s commitment into perspective, this was less than five seconds slower than the Formula 5000 Chevron B37 on pole for the Aurora Derek Bell Trophy opener! Danny Morris ran the combo closest, clocking 1:48.461 - a personal best by three seconds - with Simon Allaway third on 1:48.951 in his five-litre Chevrolet V8-powered Lotus Esprit Silhouette Special.

Three fast Fords were closely-matched in their wake, Dan Minton’s long-serving Escort-BDG Mk2 on a fine 1:50.389 heading Jack Gadd’s tube-frame RSR Mk1 Millington and David Matthias’ Sierra Cosworth RS500 on 1:51.007 and 1:51.949 respectively. Paul Sibley - winner of five of the previous six Oulton races in his Lotus Elan, but now aboard a relatively conventional 1460cc MG Midget - sat a strong seventh on 1:54.696, with Jack Harper’s venerable Triumph Spitfire, into which he and dad Ron transplanted a high-revving Honda engine some years back for DDMC events, for company on a remarkably Modsports-esque row four.

The next pair of cars could not have been more diametrically-opposed. Chris and Jon Warburton’s superb little Volkswagen Golf GTi Mk1 left hooker - with less than 190bhp on tap - was punching way above its weight, Chris wringing an heroic 1:55.556 from the very standard looking - from a distance at least - Wolfsburg machine. Local man Ric Wood’s awe-some new self-built Zakspeed Capri evocation - debuted at last month’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in period Liquid Moly/Nigrin car polish livery - clicked 1:55.680 to complete the top 10 on its first flying lap, but was far from race ready. Tony Davies’ splendid Transpeed Vauxhall Firenza, a veteran of the BARC Wendy Wools championship and the Driving Ambi-tion TV series was next up on 1:55.860.

It was fantastic to see Tom Carey’s Honda CRX rebuilt in less than two months following its Thruxton fire, a tribute to loyal Garage 83 Motorsport mates who toiled tirelessly on week nights between distant worker Tom’s weekend visits. Currently fitted with an interim 1800cc BDA engine from the old Carey Chevette HSR, the combo managed a promising 1:56.126, with Malcolm Harding’s Castrol Zakspeed tribute Escort Mk2 on 1:56.443. Also inside two minutes were Joe Ward in the fabled ex-Gerry Marshall DTV Firenza ‘Baby Bertha’ (1:58.702), Neil Claxton’s Ford-powered Suzuki SC100 (1:59.237) and Tim Cairns’s very original Hexagon Midget (1:59.535).

Back in Blue Oval territory, Paul Connell’s Sierra RS500, Martin Reynolds’ potent Zippo/Valvoline 2.5-litre Anglia 105E and Colin Claxton’s Escort Mk1 turbo (destined not to start) were blanketed by a couple of seconds. Paul Turner in the ex-Ben Bowlby Suzuki SC100, immaculately presented with a 1054cc Kawasaki motorcycle engine and chain-drive rear end, was on their tails. Tony Paxman’s Connaught Competition Engines Escort Mk1, Scot Alastair Baptie’s MGB GTV8 - unfortunate to be strafed by the apologetic Harper’s spinning Spitfire - Lee Carlin’s Escort Mk2 and Neil Duke’s Anglia 105E-BDG were also close on times.

Robert Frost’s Chevrolet-engined DAX Tojeiro and Jerry Burgoyne’s ex-Charles Barter Davrian Solo Stiletto were a catchweight pair, ahead of David Beatty who substituted the ex-Rod Birley Honda Prelude-Cosworth turbocar for his Chevrolet LS7-motivated Aston Martin DBS due to gear-box issues. The colourful pack was completed by Australian visitor Roy Davis’ Triumph ‘4000’ - with a straight-six Ford engine from an early Falcon under its bonnet - west countryman Neil Vaughan’s yellow Chevrolet Corvette C3 and Steve Fray’s troubled EUROCAR V6 Ford Mondeo.

Sunday’s raceday dawned overcast, an improvement on Friday and Saturday’s rain, but the skies cleared as if to welcome visitors to the five car paddock feature, corralled by Dave Smith and overseen by Hugo Holder. As warm sunshine arrived for the rest of the day, the DAF, Dave Taylor’s ex-Mick Hill/Doug Niven/Jeff Wilson F5000 Trojan-based VW Beetle-Chevrolet (in Niven’s saltire livery) and the ex-Gerry Marshall Vauxhall Firenza ‘Baby Bertha’ - all stars of the CSCC’s Mallory Park pilot event in 2011 - plus Ian Medcalf’s ex-Peter Day Fiat 500 and Richard Turnock’s intriguing Skoda-Porsche clone, drew a constant flow of intrigued spectators of all ages. Among them old weekend warriors Tony Birch, David Ellis [who expressed interest in recommissioning his very special Aston Martin-based Special GT contender], sometime Aurora F2 Chevron racer Ron Harper and Gerry Taylor exchanged tales of yore with the owners.

First on when racing commenced, our ‘class of 2022’ entertained spectators at their favourite vantage points around the challenging circuit. Far from having things all his own way, as his practice margin suggested, Southcott led the impressive cavalcade of 29 competitors away from the rolling start. As Morris’ turbo spooled up Allaway’s torquey Esprit thundered into sec-ond before Old Hall, where a brush from Gadd gave them both a moment.

Once up to speed on a clear track, Morris refused to let Southcott’s ultra-low metallic blue Midget off the hook. Dan Minton jinked through to third initially, before Allaway grunted past, intent on chasing down Morris again. As spectators who weren’t at Donington to see Klaus Ludwig win a German Group 5 race in an original example, enjoyed the sight of a svelte Zakspeed Capri, Wood sizzled up to fifth on the opening lap, but pitted next time round to investigate teething problems with its flame-spitting 1.7-litre turbocharged BDT-type engine.

Morris remained within a second of Southcott for three laps, probing down the inside approaching Old Hall on one occasion, before Andy unleashed a 1:47.001s (90.50mph) lap which would stand as the race’s fastest. Danny responded with a stout 1:48.557 immediately, but the tow was broken. Morris and Allaway, second and third, were joint fastest through the Lakeside speed trap, pulling 130.5mph, incidentally.

Simon retained third, clear of Minton who was pursued by a gaggle comprising Matthias, Gadd, Carey and Harding. As Jack slipped back, Tom and Malcolm wriggled through to fifth and sixth. Behind them Chris Warburton was embroiled in a tussle with Harper, who eventually managed to break away, leaving the bold Golfer to get the better of Gadd on the ninth and final lap. They weren’t far ahead of 11th placed Ward at the chequer, Joe having muscled past Davies, doubtless briefly admiring the regular droop snoot Firenza’s lines, as taming its steroidal evolution commanded his attention.

Neil Claxton, Reynolds, Paxman, Cairns and Carlin also finished on the lead lap. Baptie, Beatty and Burgoyne, Vaughan and Fray completed the 22 finishers. Of those who fell by the wayside Sibley’s Midget was out for the day with overheating, as was Harding whose Escort expired in a sudden cloud of smoke along Lakeside on the slowing-down lap. A split oil seal was hopefully the limit of the damage.

With Southcott and Morris mandated to start the second stanza from row six, behind the Firenzas of Ward and Davies, P1 starter Allaway, Carey and Harper led the stampede initially, with Southcott up to fourth by the end of the opening lap. Gadd, Claxton and Matthias came through before Morris, who had the irrepressible Chris Warburton in his mirrors! Steve Minton was 12th with a steering issue, behind Ward and Davies.

Allaway survived a drama at Deer Leap on lap three, narrowly missing Baby Bertha as he regained control and crossed the timing line 12th! New leader Southcott was now six seconds clear of Carey, but Morris was now up to speed and in third, having zapped Gadd. While trying to keep up with the putty-hued Pug, Jack clattered off at Lodge on lap five, promoting Matthias to fourth ahead of Harper and Warburton.

Having cut a 1:47.012 lap - 0.069s quicker than his race one mark - logged a day’s best 115.5mph over Clay Hill’s brow and matched Morris’ 130.3mph on Lakeside, Southcott looked secure. Then his pace suddenly wilted. He’d dislodged the caricature Midget’s underfloor and venturi clobbering a kerb and it detached on lap six, when he stopped TSL’s clock at 2:09.7. Morris, who’d deprived Carey of second into Old Hall on lap seven, homed in and hurtled past the pit-bound Southcott when red flags flew three and a half minutes early for Gadd’s incident.

The result was thus wound back to lap four and Southcott declared victor from Carey, Morris, Matthias, Harper and Warburton. Davies, Allaway, Claxton and Ward completed the top 10, chased by Reynolds, the Escorts of Paxman and Minton Sr. and MG duo Baptie and Cairns. Beatty, Duke, Turner, Connell, Frost, Burgoyne, Vaughan, Fray and Davis were also clas-sified as finishers. Apart from Gadd, beached in the gravel, the only other retirement was late starter Wood whose engine was misbehaving. With a fair wind Ric will be back with us at Donington in September!





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