Our second round for 2022, brought all eleven CSCC series to the fastest circuit in the UK, on 23/24 April. To help pass the time on the run up to the bank holiday weekend we have video highlights from both days, a superb event report from Marcus Pye and professional photographs from David Stallard.
Full results are available from the TSL event page, including detailed breakdowns of pit-stops and more, by clicking 'view pdf book' underneath the series description.
David Stallard, like all artists has 'a style', during a recent conversation we encouraged him to mix things up a bit and experiment with a few different shots. Not only has he taken photos of every single cars in every session, from different vantage points through the day, but there are some new ones too. Take a look, give him or the club your views and if you like them, please buy them.
Saturday's modern series photos are here: https://www.davidstallardphotography.com/ClassicSportsCarClubCSCC/CSCC-2022/CSCC-Thruxton-23-April-22/
Sundays, classics are here, all in time order: https://www.davidstallardphotography.com/ClassicSportsCarClubCSCC/CSCC-2022/CSCC-Thruxton-24-April-22/
For a quick fix of action Marc Peters has put together two video's for you.
Our modern, Saturday action is here:
The Sunday Classics are here:
On to the report, courtesy of experienced journalist and commentator Marcus Pye, who also gave us a concise write-up in this weeks Autosport magazine and Motorsport News.
Septuagenarians strike gold at Thruxton Thriller
It’s not often that more than one competitor in their seventies beats younger guns in competitive club racing, but John Hammersley (71), Allen Tice (73) and Chris Conoley (75) all topped the podium at our seventh Thruxton Thriller, on April 23-24. Previous winner Ian Hall (78) landed a second at his favourite track, renowned for its physicality, on Sunday. He might have joined the illustrious band and added to a remarkable CV stretching back to the late 1960s on a second outing too, had not his steed’s gearbox failed dramatically. Motor racing remains unpredictable.
Leaving Saturday’s early morning showers behind on the south coast and heading joyously for my local circuit, the United Kingdom’s fastest, I prepared to extend an unbroken run of Thruxton Thrillers with what has become my routine for most solo car journeys. An hour listening to Classic FM - highlighted by Ralph Vaughan Williams’ sublime Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis - provided the prelude to my other favourite music, the song of racing engines. That would fill a glorious weekend with the MSUK’s clerks directing from the conductor’s rostrum.
On arrival at the venue - Hampshire’s cathedral of speed since 1968, situated five miles west of Andover, whose railway station I walked out from on a grey day in September ’75, arriving just as the heavens opened - the low spring sunshine was doing it best to warm the paddock. Counteracting the fierce east-north-easterly wind which would boost competitors’ speed up Woodham Hill to the Club Chicane, was a bridge too far however. Shelter from the relentless gale which had the Thruxton flags flapping audibly, though, and the ambience was very pleasant for April.
The old airfield was looking particularly verdant with commanding new spectator viewing banks stretching from the exit of the tricky right-left-right Campbell-Cobb-Segrave ‘complex’ to the left-handed Noble corner which continues the line of British land speed record holders. The steep bank formed of 130,000 cubic metres of imported soil beyond the circuit’s subtly cambered return leg has ‘greened-up’ attractively in the couple of years since it was installed, making the downhill, off-camber approach to the notorious Church appear far less daunting than it used to. Nonetheless, the challenge of mastering the ultra-fast 2.356 mile perimeter track remains aspirational for every true racer.
With Hugo, David, Hannah and Jo based in the welcoming Thruxton Centre, towering over the inside of Allard corner, adjacent to the assembly area, and a record turnout of marshals our frontline team at trackside, in the pits and paddock - thank you Ladies and Gentlemen - the action kicked-off with the opening qualifying session, for the Verum Builders Open Series, at 0900 on Saturday. Two solid days of sport ensued, each flavoured by a different array of grids to simplify logistics for the 286 entrants plus their co-drivers. Some were in action on both days, but the majority could enjoy it while spending the minimum time away from home.
I had the pleasure of joining fellow venue veteran Alistair Douglas and exited Thruxton debutant Chris Dawes on the commentary team. After a welcome morning scouring the paddock, chatting to Special Saloon legends Tony Sugden (on his 90th birthday!) and Gerry Taylor, plus current racers and team members, acquainting myself with hitherto unseen machines, my deployment was in the second box - a shed perched on a grilled metal platform overlooking Campbell, with a wonderful view of fields scrabbling into the Complex then out into through Noble into the long sweepers. Thankfully it’s a lot more stable than being atop the scaffolding tower at the chicane where I first worked, lap-charting for commentators Simon Taylor and Neville Hay in the mid-1970s.
Armed with a Thermos flask of coffee, provisions, my trusty binoculars and a charge cable to access TSL Timing’s live stream on my phone (there is no screen, but a spare electrical socket for my USB plug) I spoke to nearby marshals and spectators before climbing the steep ladder and settling in prior to the first cars being released. Facing the sun’s arc over the A303 trunk road - now barely visible in stark contrast to my first visit for the resident BARC’s Championship Finals meeting in October 1973 - it was considerably warmer within than anticipated. Between sessions the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance helicopters whirring in and out of their base in the centre on vital daily sorties added interest.
The Verum Builders Open Series got Saturday’s seven race programme under way. From pole position the clover pink nose of Brad Sheehan’s BMW E46 M3 hove into view first when the red lights went out and the pack screamed through Allard towards the Complex. David Trigg started his supercharged Lotus Exige V6 Cup R GT4 a tad too boldly from P11, gobbling up M3s aplenty, but all in vain since he approached Campbell on the grass and spun wildly back into their midst. Miraculously, everybody he’d overtaken missed him. He slunk back to the pits (for a change of underwear?) and retirement.
Kevin Clarke had wisely opted to start his clutchless Intersport M3 CSL from the pit lane and was soon carving through the field as if back in a frenetic short oval race, as fast-starting Christopher Mills and Nathan Wells chased Sheehan. Yugoslavian-born Dylan Popovic’s Ginetta G50 - with a seven-litre Chevrolet LS7 engine installed over the winter - sat fourth until he pitted after three laps when taller tyres (fitted experimentally) snagged its wheel arches. Also out early were Christian Douglas’ supercharged Ariel Atom and the Petch brothers’ smoky Ginetta G50 V6.
Sheehan and Mills both made their mandatory stops after 10 circuits, by which time Mark Steward had taken over from Wells and Clarke was up to third. Kevin went ahead next time round, but when the pit phase stagger unwound Sheehan was setting the pace again. Steward pursued him to the chequered flag, but a 30.1 second penalty for a short stop dropped the team to fourth behind Clarke, stuck in gear, and Mills/David Gardiner. Steven Williams (Lotus Evora GT4) and Martin Addison (Aston Martin Vantage GT4) completed the top six once Oliver Smith’s E36 M3 ‘Q-car’ was hit with a pit penalty.
Down the order, David Burke’s ’74 Porsche 911 RSR lookalike escaped from the menacing shark’s teeth on the nose of series sponsor Rob Hardy’s Boxster S after a protracted tussle. Ian Knight and Thruxton’s Group Operations Manager Pat Blakeney, enjoyed the former’s Racetruck VW Golf GTi, while former Formula Ford Champion of Brands and Sierra Cosworth BSCC racer Karl Jones shared Michael Pensavalle’s BMW.
The all-Caterham Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens pack was much slimmer than in recent years [many lower-powered cars being saved for a Brands Hatch GP circuit date the following weekend], but a five-position grid drop for winning Snetterton’s season-opener did not deter Christian Pittard, who chased down and passed top qualifier Ben Simonds for a Team Leos CSR 1-2 in the 40-minute feature race. A leaking brake calliper cost Tim Davis (Boss Racing C400) third, promoting class winner Richard Carter (R300). Four seconds apart after 27 laps, 420R standouts Jeremy Adams and Richard Green were fifth and sixth.
A worrying noise from within his engine saw Pittard scratch from Saturday's 15-minute sprint finale. “Better to give it back to Mountune whole, rather than risk sending a pile of bits,” said team chief Luke Stephens pragmatically. As they disputed the lead Davis and Simonds vaulted the chicane kerbs, but a leaking brake master cylinder cap - not the heavy landing as initially thought - forced the latter out. The duelling Carter and David Holroyd, who acclimatised well to the CSR 1600 turbo over the day, chased Davis in. Adams took fourth in a photo finish with Green.
Andrew Windmill relishes the challenge of eroding Co-ordSport Tin Tops success penalties in his Honda Civic Type R Leggera. Proving supporter Kaz Limited-Slip-Diffs’ friction plate product, he made up 30s for winning at Snetterton and was first to the post, but a pit infringement stop-and-go left him third.
Adam Brown (Fives Garage Ford Fiesta ST) and the loquacious Manoj Patel (in his road-driven Civic Type R) enjoyed a tremendous scrap, finishing nose-to-tail. Brown was accorded victory when Windmill’s fate intervened, but a 60 second penalty hit for Patel, bumped him to fifth. CSCC - Manoj and others were sadly awarded penalties after a rare misinterpretation of pit-stop regulations by our valued volunteers, something that was rectified for later races, but too late to change the Tin Tops result. The deceptively quick Field dad-and-lad Proton Persona and Dave Hutchins’ Civic moved up to second and third. Qualified on pole by Chris, the Warburton family’s 1800cc VW Golf GTi Mk1 was sixth, his best lap 0.282s shy of Windmill’s.
With road legal tyres on his superb 350bhp VW Golf TCR, circuit neighbour Jamie Sturges - based just over the noise-absorbing earth bank in Kimpton village - claimed pole position for the TrackRoadRace New Millennium showcase on 1m21.105s. Brad Sheehan was but half a second adrift with Simon Baker, Michael Vitulli and Mark Smith in the 22s as BMW drivers locked out the rest of the top eight. Vitulli and Sheehan led initially as the Beemers mugged the front-wheel-drive Golf at the start, squeezing Sturges down to fifth.
Sheehan took up the cudgels but in the closing stages Sturges found his car more consistent. He went ahead spectacularly at two-thirds’ distance, diving inside the lapped E46 M3s of French visitor Stephane Jansem and Jonathan Strickland into Campbell as Sheehan’s only option was the outside line. Jamie stayed ahead to the chequered flag, only to be hit with a 30.8s penalty for leaving the pits 0.8s too soon after his stop. Vitulli was awarded second and a peeved Sturges third - his best lap of 1:20.353 (105.55mph) little consolation - with Baker, Smith and Gardner/Mills (also penalised but without loss of position) sixth on the lead lap. Next best of the non-BMWs was Nissan 370Z pilot Paul Boulton in ninth.
CSCC chairman John Hammersley bolted out of the blocks from P1 (Nigel Tongue’s last lap effort) a little too keenly at the start of The Motorsports School Turbo Tin Tops race, which attracted a 10 second false start imposition. Hammersley was soon into his stride in the Airconstruct VW Scirocco R-Cup, considerably lightened by fibreglass doors over the winter, and relayed Tongue to a second team win of the afternoon. “Nigel’s at the top of his game. At 71 I can’t match him,” said John - who your scribe first saw racing a Ford Capri here in the mid-1970s!
Snetterton winner Carl Chambers (Pugsport Peugeot 208 GTi) and the eyecatching Rutpen Civic of Stuart Emmett/Dan Ludlow fell by the wayside two-thirds’ distance. Charlie Newton-Darby (Mini Cooper S R53) finished second on the road, the best placed of six to receive a 60 second penalty for exceeding the pit lane speed limit, and an additional 30s for an unsafe release left him third, behind Simon Smail’s #333 Fiesta. “I’m here by myself, so hadn’t a clue where I was,” admitted Smail after a spirited effort.
A lap down, Sean Woodard/Josh Fulbrook (Cooper S R56) finished fourth, ahead of Tom Oatley (Renault Clio) and the penalised Keith Issatt’s Mini Clubman.
The Liqui Moly Slicks Series race had Sturges on pole again with a stout 1m17.758s (109.07mph) in his Ramair Filters Golf. Behind him, BMWs, Porsches, Ginettas (G55 and G50) and singleton Aston Martin GT4, Lotus 340R, Noble M12 RSRs were packed around two extraordinary rear-engined Chevrolet V8-powered silhouettes, built on French Solution F chassis. Sam Allpass’ Geoff Steel Racing version, which caught fire here in testing in 2020, was clothed in BMW M4 caricature panels while Nigel Mustill’s 2011 Spa 12 Hours winner (previously owned by Allpass) was dressed as a steroidal Volvo S60.
At the back, a power steering issue slowed the Lotus Evora of Kevin Riley, 76, whose last Thruxton start was in the 1983 Thundersports race, sharing Mick Hill’s fearsome BMW M1-Chevrolet, based on the Formula 5000 Durex Lola T400 raced by Richard Scott and Bob Evans in ’75!
There was drama before the start when Chris Griffin spun his Aston Martin at the kink before the Complex and nudged the barrier backwards. He continued, regained his place in the queue and settled-in for the rolling start. Nathan Wells (M3) and Sturges led the stampede, with Kevin Jones (Noble M12 RSR), Clarke (M3 CSL), Peter Challis (Arrowpak Porsche 997) and Allpass forming the chasing group. Wells fell after six laps, on the outside of Allard, leaving Sturges five seconds clear of Jones with Allpass and Griffin, both of whom would stop as soon as the pit window opened, separated by Challis.
Clarke stopping on the exit of Noble brought out a safety car which split the field, with Allpass and Griffin most of a lap behind albeit the de facto leaders following perfectly timed calls from the pit wall. As the closely-matched pair hared round the back of the circuit on lap 18, the Aston suddenly broke traction and slewed sideways, disappearing into the cut grass between Village and Church. Unbeknown to all bar the marshals at the scene its trajectory continued until the car went off the fairway, hit some rougher greenery, dug in and rolled relatively slowly. It went over once, landed on its wheels and was driven back to the paddock down the central runway post-race. Chris was thankfully unhurt.
Allpass was now too far clear to be caught, set-up tweaks to the BMW-Chevrolet vindicated by an opportunistic win on the “best circuit for aero.” Sturges and Jones finished second and third, 2.1 seconds apart, with Challis and Chris Everill (Ginetta-Chevrolet G55) next, and Ashley Muldoon sixth, best of the conventional Munich-built BMWs once team mates Bryan Bransom and Jasver Sapra were penalised for short stops.
CSCC: On behalf of Kevin Riley's team we'd like to thank Simon Green Motorsport, for kindly giving a team member a lift back to Northamptonshire after being stranded at the circuit.
A fresh set of grids populated the paddock overnight, joining those drivers and teams staying on for more fun. Parts delays and mechanical problems hit the JMC Racing Special Saloons & Modsports entrants which qualified first, before the long church break, in preparation for their double-header. Inspirational Anglo-Jamaican engineer Clive Anderson and his Prism Racing BMW-Rover V8 twin turbo was on sparkling form and made the running with personal best times, before Jack Gadd extended his DWG Escort - now with a torquier and more powerful 2.8-litre Millington engine - to claim pole with a 1:20.885 (104.86mph) shot.
Anderson kept second on 1:22.464, with Ian Hall (Darrian-Wildcat T96 GTR) within half a second. Rod Birley (BMW E36 M3), Neil Duke (Ford Anglia-BDG) and the omnipresent Martin Reynolds sixth having arrived with ex-Graham Saul Sierra RS500 turbocar, acquired to replace the ‘ProConsul’ Classic V8 sidelined by engine failure. Another interesting car debuting in the series was the smallest, the ex-Charles Barter 1040cc Davrian Solo Stiletto of mooring master Jerry Burgoyne, whose day job is manoeuvring supertankers at sea.
Race one was red-flagged after three laps when the luckless Tom Carey’s BDG-powered Honda CRX clone erupted into flames passing the pits - licks of flame were spotted exiting the Chicane - and was parked swiftly at Allard. Prompt action by the driver and marshals extinguished the inferno, but the car will be sidelined for some time, not least because Carey works a long way from his workshop.
Gadd, leading at the stoppage, was challenged by Anderson at the Complex on the restart, but a jab of throttle on cold slicks sent the ochre monster gyrating onto the grass on lap two. Hall and Birley went through, but Clive caught Ian, only to spin at the Chicane on the final lap in his quest to regain second. Colin Claxton (Escort turbo) earned fifth, pursued to the chequer by Duke and Robert Frost (8.3 Dax Tojeiro). Reynold’s Sierra was trailered for the day before the second attempt.
Ten cars formed the second grid, but Anthony Hancock’s short Lotus Elan ‘test session’ and Hall’s retirement on lap three when his ‘Pikes Peak’ Darrian’s fifth gear grenaded, thinned numbers further. Anderson reduced his best lap time to 1:21.299 then charged inside Gadd - who had circulated 0.014s quicker - to seize the advantage into Allard on lap five and stayed there. Clive’s popular victory “on second hand boots” was his first with the awesome BMW since the 2019 season opener at Silverstone.
With honours equal over the day, nobody was happier for him than Gadd. “A big thumbs-up to him,” said Jack as the Prism team’s celebrations began. Birley, waiting for parts to build a stronger engine, Frost’s ‘fake snake,’ Claxton and returnee Matt Snowball’s Hot Wheels Plymouth Barrracuda completed the top six. Behind them, Burgoyne finished in the slipstream of Steve Fray’s SHP Mondeo ‘Eurocar.’
The combined Adams & Page Swinging Sixties grid numbered a splendid 42 cars. Oliver and Nigel Reuben’s TVR Griffith was quickest in qualifying but was withdrawn, leaving Jamie Keevil (Lotus Elan) and Ray Barrow (Chevrolet Camaro) as frontrunners.
It was good to see the beautifully turned-out Mini Cooper Ss of Dutchman Marc Kniese (with patriotic orange-roof and bonnet stripes) and Rob and Francesca Roodhouse (in Boopspeed green, for those who remember Paul Gaymer’s cars) in the mixed pack, together with Tim Cairns in an unfamiliar (to me) Turner who went on to a class win.
Again Keevil took the chequer, but a 10 second jumped start penalty meant that Barrow was advantaged, thus repeated last year’s win. Jack Smith drove the family MGA superbly in the opening stages, leaving former Historic Formula Junior and 1000cc F3 racer dad Steve the straightforward job of bringing it home third. Steve Hodges (Lotus 7) and Alex “Scrap Junior, Junior” Thistlethwayte (his Ford Mustang now Alan Mann Racing-run) both accrued time penalties but finished ahead of fast-starter Malcolm Johnson’s Lotus Europa. Nick King’s Aston Martin DB4 and Richard Merrell’s rorty Alfa Romeo Giulia GT were also classified on the lead lap.
The Speedpanel A2 Modern Classics podium looked like a little piece of Tuscany, via Blackpool, with a 1-2-3 for TVRs. Alex Taylor lucked-in to gold when Oliver Smith’s BMW M3 peeled off at Brooklands while homing in to complete lapping the field. Taylor (ex-Troy Dunlop five-litre) staved off Matt Holben’s 4.5-litre version, with Stuart Daburn’s battleship grey big banger third.
Stuart Jefcoate (Porsche 993) led the rest home, half a minute ahead of Nick Hamilton in the best of the Ginetta G20s and Rob Hardy (Porsche Boxster). Down the field, David Sharp pipped Glyn Davies to eighth after a long scrap.
Daburn was back out in Advantage Motorsport Future Classics and enjoyed a relatively simple run to victory after rival Mark Chilton’s very fast but fragile Nissan Skyline GTR R32 retired in a haze of steam and water. Another cracked engine block was the culprit! After a safety car for the retrieval of Bob Searles’ Aston Martin V8 - out for the first time in 20 years - and Chris Pidcock’s Porsche 924S ‘pick-up’ which had collided at Church, Snetterton class victor Miles Masarati (Porsche 911 Turbo) was pursuing Daburn, also carrying 30 seconds’ ‘success ballast,’ but Miles’ engine frustratingly refused to restart at the mandatory stop.
Ryan Mone (Ryan Motorsport Insurance Porsche 944) this found himself leading, but Daburn lunged past into the Complex on lap 18. David Burke in his stunning Parr Motorsport-built ’74 Porsche Carrera SC lookalike, based on an ’82 3.0 SC, rose to the challenge of reeling Mone in, but ran out of time (doing enough to be awarded the 70's Group 1 overall trophy).
Exceeding the pitlane speed limit incurred a 60 second penalty which dropped Burke to sixth, Rob Hardy (now in his 944), Ian Knight (VW Golf GTi) and Matthew Irons/Jake Severs (BMW 323i) being reordered ahead of him.
Allen Tice brings 22 seasons of Marcos GT racing experience to the Mintex Classic K competition, sharing with Chris Conoley since 2014, but may have to nickname his 60-year-old car ‘Fabulous 208’ - the famous old Radio Luxembourg motto - as the sum of their ages following an unexpected first victory in the Thruxton event’s finale. The ultra-consistent combo had contested all six races at Dorset domiciled Tice’s local circuit (since CSCC’s first visit in ’16), never qualifying lower than fourth. With a fourth, two thirds and two seconds already on their log, this win was particularly sweet.
Qualifying for the 28-strong entry saw the ’17 and ’20 polemen secure P3, behind the Lotus Elans of previous winners Anthony Hancock (for whom protege Murray Shepherd logged 1:30.848s) and Paul Tooms, with local man Alex Thistlethwayte (Ford Mustang), Ollie Streek (Mini Cooper S) and Alexander Hewitson (Austin-Healey 3000) rounding out the top six.
Further interest surrounded the appearance of Chris Ward, co-driving Steve Osborne’s Maldon Salt Porsche 911, and a tight MGB quartet headed by Russell Martin. The Triumph TR4s of Steve Chapman and Nick King were split by 0.093s and Classic Clubmans racer Brian Hunter’s Tornado Talisman drew attention. Joe Ward’s TVR started from the back having conked-out at the Complex on its out lap.
Tooms’ Elan expired on the opening lap of the race, when a fuel weep melted an oil pressure capillary. The smoke screen from Village to the chicane, where he parked with “a small fire” looked more dramatic than it proved to be, both from within and in the chasing group. “It was very exciting at full chat through Church, with oil on the tyres, and smoke filling the cockpit,” said Paul. Fortuitously, damage was minimal, and he only had a 25 mile journey home, near the 1950s’ racetrack at Ibsley.
Shepherd, up ahead, made his escape but pitted after 18 laps with the pale blue Elan’s silencer box dragging on the ground. Tom Ebbs double-gloved to reattach the hot pipe, and Hancock took over, only to retire with an engine problem. Unbeknown to onlookers, Tice had reported oil surge when he handed over to Conoley, longtime builder of the Volvo engine, 23 laps in. Chris nursed it home to the chequer - “we just drove around it” - finishing half a minute clear of Thistlethwayte who was 11s ahead of Streek.
Streek’s kerb-hopping progress had been spectacular throughout, particularly when dicing with Chris Ward in the Porsche, who had hunted down and shaken off the MGB posse, then passed Joe Ward’s TVR for the class lead. “I let Ollie [a lap ahead] past, but don’t think I could have overtaken him again,” said Chris. Following a pitstop penalty, the Porsche ended up sixth, behind the Elans of Cliff Gray and Lyndon Griffin/Nigel Adams, but still a couple of seconds ahead of Ward’s namesake’s ‘Grannie.’
My leisurely cross-country route home brought time to reflect on another thoroughly entertaining event. With rolling expanses of vibrant yellow oilseed rape fields resplendent beneath the waning sun to the west, south of Salisbury, and as I left the village of Downton behind a brief homage to period BMC A-series tuning wizard Daniel Richmond’s Downton Engineering concern, again it was a Classic FM radio soundtrack which put into perspective how fortunate we are, everyday complications aside, to live in a free country. Check out the breathtaking clarity of Norwegian Jan Garbarek’s strident soprano saxophone and the Hilliard Ensemble’s voices in Spanish renaissance composer Cristobal de Morales’ Parce Midi Domine and rejoice!
In two weeks time we travel to Anglesey, returning to the popular Coastal layout, with two races for every series. It's one of the very finest circuits in the country and worth the extra pounds it might cost to get there this year. We do have limited space in a number of races, it's not too late to enter now before the fee increases as we move in to next week.