Swinging Sixties at the Castle Combe Cracker

Updated: Oct 30


The Adams & Page Swinging Sixties Series once again provided capacity grids and close racing at Castle Combe, on Saturday 24th October. Vicki Cairns was there to report from a very wet pit lane.......


As at every meeting this season, there was a full grid entered for the combined Adams & Page Swinging Sixties race. By qualifying, there were 15 cars from Group 2 and 25 Group 1 entries on the track. Overnight and into the early morning there had been rain which left the track greasy, resulting in several cars visiting the grass and suffering near-misses as they came back on track, fortunately no damage resulted!

There was an interesting mix of cars at the front of the grid. The poor conditions saw 2 of the Minis on the front row, ahead of the bigger Group 2 cars. Julian Howell (Austin Mini) was over 1 second faster than Chris Watkinson (Austin Mini). On the second row was the Jaguar XJ6 of Simon Lewis & Guy Connew and the TVR Griffith of Oliver & Nigel Reuben. They were within a fraction of a second of Watkinson. An interesting race looked to be in prospect with such a mix of cars, especially as the weather conditions were looking unsettled to say the least!

Weather played into the hands of the Mini drivers in qualifying, Chris Watkinson qualifying second, here pursued by David McDonald.

The race was late in the afternoon and by that time the weather had taken a turn for the worse. There was much discussion about tyres by those drivers who had a choice of rubber more suited to the now completely soaking wet track. A rain shower an hour before race time made the decision for them.

Several drivers had problems in practice and when the grid formed up there were gaps - including the aforementioned XJ6 of Lewis & Connew, Mark Parsley & Jon Ellison's Triumph TR6 and the MGA of Steve & Jack Smith. Tony Hunting (Morris Mini) did make it onto the grid, managing to change the clutch with help from the ever-resourceful Vince Moore.

It was a standing-start at Castle Combe, a start procedure which takes the help of more marshals than for a rolling-start; so many thanks to them for all their work on such a miserable day. As soon as the lights went out the sheer grunt of Oliver Reuben’s TVR, all 5 litres of it, showed, as he controlled all that horsepower on the greasy surface to storm pass the Mini’s on the front row. From the pits, just a few red taillights were visible through the grey gloom as the pack kinked left over Avon Rise and out of sight into Quarry. It was to all the drivers' credit that the race was completed without the intervention of the Safety Car.

Oliver Reuben out dragged the Mini's at the start, on the way to a resounding victory.

Julian Howell held onto second, chased by the "sister" Mini of Matthew Howell & Joshua Brooks, and the Jon Wolfe/David Thompson TVR Tuscan. Meanwhile, coming up through the field was Jamie Keevill's Lotus Elan. After a disappointing qualifying session, Jamie and his father Paul worked on the car and the changes that were made transformed the car for the wet conditions.

Just before the pit-window opened for everyone’s compulsory pit stop, Julian Howell made a misjudgement and came into the pits just 27-seconds before it opened at the 10 minute mark, which meant that he had to come in again. There were 3 drivers with 30-second penalties for previous wins this season, Julian Howell among them. 2 minutes plus 30-seconds seems a very long time! Howell sadly had to retire on Lap 20.

After the pit-stops were completed, Oliver Reuben still held the lead, co-driver Nigel having decided to sit out the race. Howell & Brooks were 23 seconds behind the TVR. Behind, there was a thrilling 3-way battle going on between the two Datsun 240Zs of Dean Halsey and Dave Roberts, along with the TVR of Wolfe & Thompson. Sadly, there was an accidental "coming-together" between the Datsun’s going through the Esses, which resulted in Halsey retiring with only 2 laps to go. Roberts finished fourth and Wolfe & Thompson fifth, behind Keevill, who made it to third place having started nineteenth, a strong drive from Jamie.

Dave Roberts finished just off the overall podium in fourth.

Oliver Reuben took the overall Group 2 win, second place went to the charging Jamie Keevill, with third to Wolfe & Thompson. Howell & Brooks earned overall Group 1 success, with second place in Group 1 going to Chris Watkinson in his Austin Mini and third to Tim Cairns in the Austin Healey Sprite, after overcoming his (Tims) 30 second success penalty.

For the first time that I can remember, the CSCC are racing in November! Normally we are looking forward to the Annual End of Season Dinner at this time of year, but alas not in 2020 'thanks' to Covid. We all hope that it will be back for 2021. Meanwhile we have Mallory Park to enjoy on 1st November. Please may we have a bright, dry day; even if it is a bit chilly!


Photos courtesy of David Stallard: https://www.davidstallardphotography.com/


A brilliant video shot by Marc Peters: https://youtu.be/cBPuYQDu2OY

Full race results are available on the TSL website: https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/204364



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