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Thruxton Historic. Swinging 60s Race Report.




Marcus Pye reports for us on the Swinging 60's superb race at the Thruxton Historic meeting:


Thistlethwayte wins in his playground.

 

Two months after he bought the fabled Hampshire airfield venue, Alex Thistlethwayte blasted his 5.7-litre Chevrolet Camaro from pole position to victory in the Thruxton Historic event’s 40-minute Adams & Page Swinging Sixties race on June 23. Manhandling the writhing monster through constant traffic, Thistlethwayte finished 26 seconds ahead of a clutchless and exhausted Connor Kay (TVR Tuscan V6) as competitors throughout the 38-strong field entertained a record audience in the best annual showcase yet.

 

Twenty six hours after Malcolm Johnson finished third in the weekend’s first Swinging Sixties’ extravaganza on Silverstone’s Grand Prix circuit in his Lotus Europa, he mirrored the result with another class-winning performance. Touring car victor Tom Pead’s Niki Lauda tribute BMW 1600ti and Jonathan Crayston’s Elan S4 also finished on the lead lap. In a magnificent miscellany spanning towards 20 marques, Thistlethwayte’s fastest lap of 1m30.024s (94.21mph) eclipsed Kay’s early shot by a mere 0.203s.

 

Photo by kind permission of Ian Everett. 

 

Two Swinging Sixties races in two days, on high-speed tracks 90 miles apart as the crow flies, appealed to the most ardent competitors. Eight teams teams attempted both with the same cars, Simon Benoy (Hillman Imp), Ian Burgin and Mike Henny (Austin-Healey Frogeye Sprites), James Hughes (Lenham Sprite), Malcolm Johnson (Lotus Europa), John Ward/Molly Dodd with their brace of TVRs, Simon Watling/Shaun Haddrell (Turner-Climax Mk1) and Chris Winchester (Turner-BMC Mk2) heading south from Silverstone to Thruxton on a sunny Saturday evening.

 

Connor Kay jumped horses from his MG Midget to Ben Caizley’s rorty TVR Tuscan V6 - debuted impressively at Donington - and John Faux switched from Burgin’s Sprite to James Mackie’s. Universal respect, though, for the indomitable Mark Cloutman. Rather than capitulate and miss out when his Austin A40 broke at Silverstone, he returned home to far-flung north Norfolk, collected his Sebring Sprite and set off for Thruxton, a gruelling 190 mile slog away. After a trek to test anybody’s resolve and stamina, he arrived and was smiling on Sunday morning!

 

Forty one cars filled the assembly area and were released for 30 minutes of qualifying at 1040. At its conclusion, transatlantic racer Paul Tooms from the southern side of Hampshire initially topped the list in Larry Kennedy’s pristine Witchampton Garage Lotus Elan, shared with Dorset farmer Robert Rowe. “I didn’t do the time,” smiled Paul. Too much of a sportsman to take up P1 and risk being swamped by more accelerative machinery at the start, he admitted as much and was bumped back to third from which he could watch front row duo Alex Thistlethwayte and Connor Kay lay rubber at the start of the race.

 

Photo by kind permission of Marcus Pye


Thistlethwayte, in his menacing Alan Mann Racing-prepared Camaro - Martin Thomas’ period Ovaltine mount, which Australian F1 driver Tim Schenken also raced for him in Flame Out aerosol fire extinguishers livery in 1972 - set a splendid 1m28.543s (95.75mph) best to pip Kay by 1.876s. Tooms’ 1:31.697 on his first flyer shaded class rivals Allen Tice, a previous Classic K winner here in his Marcos-Volvo 1800GT, Johnson’s Europa and Crayston’s Elan. Barely seven tenths covered the quartet.

 

Barney Collinson was credited with 1:33.288s, quickest of the Spridget runners, which slotted the combo in seventh overall, five places ahead of James Hughes’ Lenham - which must almost know its way round Thruxton’s sweeps having previously been local ace Andy Southcott’s - on 1:34.674, with the Sprites of Andrew ‘Tiddles’ Tidmarsh and Ian Burgin and long-distance commuter Simon Benoy’s trusty Imp in the 35s.

 


Video by kind permission of Marcus Pye


Splitting this competitive group were Jerry Bailey’s gruff Ford Mustang and the two-litre BMWs of Charles Tippet (Laranca Engineering-run 2002ti) on 1:33.875 and last year’s Brands Hatch victor Tom Pead (Fargus Racing 1600ti). Charles, who raced a Clubmans Gryphon at Thruxton in the early 1970s and won Ford Fiesta and Renault 5 Turbo races here in 1982 and 1986 respectively, was soloing unusually as daughter Claire [Norman] was sharing Alan Blencowe’s SEAT Leon TCR at Snetterton. Nick King’s glorious silver Aston Martin DB4 separated the Beemers.

 

Quickest of the 1380cc Mini Cooper Ss was Chris Watkinson’s on 1:36.052 in 16th, the fruit of just four laps, but Rob and Francesca Roodhouse’s green machine was but half a second slower on Fran’s final shot. The Turner-Climax of Simon Watling/Shaun Haddrell, Julian Howe’s MGB GT and John Devlin’s pretty 2.7-litre Ford-powered Reliant Sabre Six took the grid to half-way. Ward/Dodd were also in the 1:38s with their TVRs, with Matthew Domin/Michael McBride (MGC GT), Nick Whitaker’s late 1970s-built Ferrari 308 GT4 Dino, Simon Tinkler’s MGB GT, Adrian Vincent’s BMW Alpina A4 S and Andrew Hall’s Triumph TR6 all inside 1m40s.

 

Mark Cloutman’s very pretty Sebring Sprite, Vaughn Winter/Simon Dawson’s Team Spirit Racing Phil Winter tribute Cooper S on home soil, and the Sprites of Mackie, Faux and Mike Henney were next up. The final quarter of the impressive grid saw Chris Winchester’s Turner-BMC Mk2 and the 3.4 Jaguar Lister Mk1 of Nigel Webb/John Young 0.015 apart. 

 

Simon Page’s Sebring Sprite, David Rose’s ex-Pete Wright Austin A40, Andy and Amelia Storer’s green MG Midget and the Lotus Cortina of John and Ian Fraser were next up. The pack was completed by Peter Forfar’s Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT, Springbok racer Vaughan Thomas’ rare GSM Dart 1500R, John Wreghitt’s MGB and the omnipresent Radio Caroline BMW 1600ti of David Cornwallis. All bar the Winter/Dawson Mini and Burgin’s black Sprite made it out into the afternoon race, for which 38 competitors formed the grid stretching back to the Club chicane. When Ward’s TVR Vixen played up before the start, relay team mate Molly Dodd - expecting to take over in the window - was not ready, so her Griffith was very late away.  

 

From P8, Bailey’s Mustang thundered away from the start, snaking left and skirting the grass but still making several places before Allard. Thistlethwayte’s General Motors machine was four seconds clear of the Ford pony car by the end of the opening lap. Johnson and Tooms were in Bailey’s slipstream, with Hughes up from 12th to a class leading fifth in the cream Lenham. Collinson ran sixth, ahead of Crayston, Tippet, Benoy - up six to ninth - and Pead.

 

There were early baths for Mackie, who pitted after two laps with a misfire, followed by Watkinson with low oil pressure. Tooms’ demise was more dramatic, for as the red Elan traversed the Campbell-Cobb-Segrave complex on lap three Paul parked adjacent to the barrier at Segrave, where marshals pushed it to safety. “It was instant, no warning, just a loud tinkling noise,” he said. The inlet cam wheel had come loose, wreaking mechanical mayhem. “In all my years racing Elans I’ve not seen that before…” Collinson’s Midget went a lap more before overheating and Henney retired with his engine misfiring. So five cars were out within four laps, but only four more fell.

 

Up front Thistlethwayte was among the first to make his mandatory stop, after seven laps, the tall figure stepping out of the Chevy in a quiet pitlane and getting back in rather than remaining aboard for a longer specified time as some of the double-drivers opted to do in an ambient temperature of around 25C. Kay’s blue TVR sped past and stayed there until lap 13 when he pitted, gifting Crayston a one lap moment of glory. Only the Haddrell/Watling Turner, ‘Dolly Modd’s big TVR [the youngster lying on the concrete apron after an 18 lap stint] and the Fraser Cortina stopped later.

 

Thistlethwayte was 19 seconds ahead of Kay when he returned to the top of the lap charts, and his advantage was plumped out to over 30 before he backed off and guided the Camaro home into victory circle, still 26.707s to the good. “It was hot work, but the car ran faultlessly,” said Alex. “The engine is lovely. Ray West [the renowned Thruxton-based tuner/racer] has got it really nice.” Unbeknown to onlookers, pursuer  Kay had run clutchless throughout. He emerged from the TVR’s ‘greenhouse’ cockpit shattered by the concentration and heat, having finished fifth in his open Midget at Silverstone the previous afternoon.

 

Photo by kind permission of Ian Everett.


Johnson completed a superb weekend a further 40 seconds down, clear of Pead’s orange BMW. All four frontrunners were class winners. Crayston actually finished fourth on the road, 18 seconds adrift of Johnson, but was the best placed of five competitors penalised a minute for exceeding the 60kph (37mph) speed limit in the pit lane. A lap down on Pead, Tippet was sixth at the chequered flag, but a similar imposition dropped Charles to 11th, behind class winner Hughes, Tice’s Marcos, Bailey’s Mustang, the gallant Haddrell/Watling Turner and King’s Aston Martin. Benoy, 13th at Silverstone, improved to 12th here. 

 

Best of the MGs were the BGTs of Howe and Tinkler, 13 seconds apart in 13th and 14th. Having exited the chicane abreast with the closed Turner in the closing stages, albeit a lap apart, Chris Winchester in his open version was next home . ‘Fast Fran’ Roodhouse’s last race as a 21-year-old resulted in a class win and 16th overall in the surviving Mini taken over from her dad. Nick Whitaker’s Ferrari and Mark Cloutman’s Sebring Sprite also completed 24 laps.

 

Next past the finishing post, on 23, was the BMW of Adrian Vincent who picked-off John Devlin’s Reliant and John Young in Nigel Webb’s curvaceous green Jaguar in a final flourish. A couple of seconds blanketed Devlin, Young and the Domin/McBride MGC at the close. Tidmarsh and Forfar also did 23 laps to complete the top 24, a lap ahead of Rose and Page. Thomas, Wreghitt and Cornwallis were the last finishers.

 




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2 Comments


defeated hapless
defeated hapless
12 hours ago

A race with so many good drivers and spectacular turns for the fans. geometry dash subzero

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Lamb Herman
Lamb Herman
2 days ago

Touring car victor Tom Pead’s Niki Lauda tribute BMW 1600ti and Jonathan Crayston’s Elan S4 also finished on the lead lap. geometry dash lite

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