After a 3 year break, the CSCC returned to one of the world's best circuits, taking 159 entries (200+ drivers) from all eleven of its race series, to Spa Francorchamps. Much work had been done over the preceding year to best advise members on what they would, should or could need, in terms of paperwork, since we left the EU. With this being the first large 'amateur' overseas race meeting since Brexit, we were the Guinea Pigs for club racing. More on this later...
The results from all races can be found here: http://spasummerclassic.alkamelsystems.com/
Alas, we were due to have Marc Peters with us, to produce another of his wonderful video compilations, only for Covid to strike the week before. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't produce a negative test and was very disappointed not to be there.
We did however have our Social Media ace, Joe Perry, along for his maiden visit to Spa. Joe showed his versatility with some great photos to download on our main Facebook page, whilst walking miles each day from podium, to paddock, to various different vantage points.
With the CSCC team busy working, rather than spectating, we don't have a race report, instead we'll just add a few memories, for a flavour of the event. Many members have posted updates, photos and videos within each CSCC series Facebook group, so it's worth taking a look and adding your own. Links to professional photographers have been added at the end of this article. The main photo was taken by:
Every driver attending may collect a commemorative Spa sticker (designed by Lisa Selby), with those winning class awards presented with a trophy at the next CSCC meeting they attend. We are sorry we were not able to bring these to Spa (or post them), but the cost and bureaucracy involved would have been high.
Tim and Vicki Cairns' van decided to break a camshaft some miles from the circuit. With the help of others in the paddock, notably Dean Halsey, the race car was brought to the circuit, with Tim's spares and tools accommodated in various members motorhomes. They were finally recovered from Spa three days after the event had finished!
The event started for many on Wednesday night, with a late entry to the circuit, following the 24hr race test. Trying to get the 24hr teams out of the circuit and then hundreds of Spa Summer Classic competitors in through the same gate was never going to be the work of a moment. Thank you to those of you who showed patience and understood that regardless of how early you turned up, as our email explained, entry for us started from 20:30 and would only be possible when the paddock was free.
The CSCC team jumped the queue, so as to assemble the gazebos as darkness fell, rushing to be ready, so as to start scrutineering early the next morning. With the help of Scrutineers Mike Harris and Tony Harman, Jackie Harman, Mintex Classic K Series Representative, Mark Barton, Tim and Vicki Cairns and almost certainly more helpful souls, we left the circuit for our respective accommodation at 23:15.
Paddock space soon filled throughout Thursday and we ran out of space, both in our 'green' paddock and our shared 'orange' paddock. More on paddock parking arrangements in the future..... Thank you to our Jaguar drivers, particularly Sam Clarke Junior, for willingly moving up and making space for the JMC Racing truck and race cars.
The driver briefings contained a lot of information to absorb, with an emphasis on the new gravel traps and a focus on track limits. Remarkably, despite our concerns, we only had two CSCC cars stuck in gravel over the whole event, well done ladies and gents. Blanchimont track limits caught out plenty, with time penalties for a few (one driver managed to tot up the equivalent of three drive throughs!).
Weather is always a factor here, this year ranging from 30C heat and full-on sun on the Thursday, to high teens and thunder storms at other times. The heavy downpour on Friday evening brought out two red flags and ultimately cut the Spa 3 Hours qualifying session short. Simultaneously, the CSCC Gazebos became packed with members and guests trying to munch a burger away from the rain. Our world famous barbeque was enjoyed by many members and their helpers. Mark Barton cooked the perfect amount of food with it running out just as the last people arrived..
Tina Cooper's Mini threw a low oil pressure warning. Taking no chances, she changed to a spare engine, cooking in the hot Thursday sun. Frustratingly the replacement engine appeared no better at first, before the fault was traced to an oil pressure sender. The engines were fine after all! Success in the final race on Sunday, hopefully made it all worthwhile.
The need for spare parts occupied both Jon Dee (Integra) and James Slater (Civic), as they scoured first the paddock, then Belgium's various parts suppliers. Both cars were repaired and out again later in the meeting. Well done gents and all those who helped them.
Commiserations to Jon Harber (RX-8) and family, who barely turned a wheel in qualifying, before a major oil leak struck, prematurely ending their first ever trip to Spa. We hope they will try again next year.
Chris Blewitt's Ginetta was determined to run on 3 cylinders, with a great many minds (notably Tim Cairns, Ray Barrow and mechanic Dave) making helpful suggestions, resulting in changing plugs, leads, carbs and more. It was worth it in the end, getting Chris a good run from the back in the last race, before his battery went flat at the pit lane entry, fortunately after the pit window had ended.
With many of the Morgan entries under orders not to drive their cars due to an urgent brake recall from the factory, just two were able to race. Peter Sargeant drove his Morgan from Hertfordshire to Spa, raced, took a top step on the podium, (twice) and then drove it home. Who needs a tow car and trailer?!
Piers Bridgman-Williams and son Theodore had looked forward to racing together at Spa for many years. Bad luck, health, world events and car trouble all transpired to delay this for some years. Finally, the Porsche 944 was ready at the very last moment and they got to Belgium, before a snapped gear lever threatened it all. Ian Everett put his welding evening course to good use, together with welding equipment from the ever-helpful BOSS Racing and tools from Dean Halsey and Tim Cairns. Between them they got the lever repaired, possibly stronger than ever and the pair got to race together, a big smile from Piers, a reward to them all.
There were plenty of first-timers to Spa, perhaps the two extremes being those that took wins (Morgan Short) and those that finished towards the back. All newcomers seemed to enjoy the unique and special experience of this event and location.
Whilst it's Hugo, Hannah and myself (David), from the office that are the faces many of you recognise, we could not run this event without a great deal of help from others. In no particular order, a huge thank you to our BBQ chef, Mark Barton, plus those who helped prepare and serve the food for the masses: Jane Blewett, Vicki Cairns, Jackie Smith and Ian Everett.
Chief Scrutineer, Mike Harris not only ploughed through 150+ cars on Thursday and then Friday morning, but continued to help the team throughout the event, in matters outside his expertise. He was ably assisted by two local Belgian scrutineers and fellow scrutineer and CSCC member, Tony Harman, plus Tony's wife Jackie, volunteering to help the club, out of the love of being involved.
Peter French and Malcolm Johnson were helping to support members, as well as competing themselves. John Leslie, thank you for allowing us to use your car to pick up supplies.
Colin Philpott stepped up with a first aid kit for a member in need.
Please forgive us if we have missed anyone out but a huge thank you to you all.
Entries to the event were strong, but down on our usual figures, perhaps financial constraints a factor, combined with uncertainty over potential hassle at the border. For those that took the risk, it paid off, with very few exceptions our self-run drivers proceeded through France/Holland and into Belgium and back home again with no issues at all from customs and most did not have a Carnet. A few were stopped, but after a brief chat, a check of paperwork and a peek at the race car (having a TVR helped in one case!) were sent on their way with a message of good luck.
One member, who opted not to fill out a Carnet, was travelling in a privately owned 7.5T truck but was sent back from the tunnel to Ashford to fill out a 'GMR' and cost of £20, but was allowed to pass after this.
Another member, with a road-registered MGB had an extended discussion at French customs. He was asked to produce a 'customs declaration', but after a chat with someone senior the official waved him through.
The CSCC needed a Carnet for the club van contents, but aside from the extra time and stops required it was a straightforward enough process, even though we were the only small van in a sea of Artics.
In all other cases we are aware of, it was as easy to take their race car abroad as it ever was. If any member reading this has additional information please get in touch, as we'll be updating our racing overseas guide shortly.
The Classic Sports Car Club looks forward to returning to Spa again in 2023.
Photos shown here courtesy of Joe Perry, Dereck Latet, Ian Everett, David Smitheram, Hugo Holder and Tony Harman.
Professional photographers present at the event are:
Classic Ford magazine
Magazine "SLICKPIX Motorsportfotografie"
Love for Porsche - Liebe zu Ihm
YTCC - NKHTGT
Slickpix - Tazio - Historic Motorracing News