|Circuit Championship 2005|
|The 500 Owners Association Circuit Championship Trophies are awarded for the overall winner, the best performance by a pre-1952 car (Colin Strang Trophy) and best non production car (Trevellick Trophy).|
|Final Positions||Snetterton||Cadwell Park||Mallory Park||Silverstone||Anglesey||Anglesey||Mallory Park||Mallory Park||Total|
|Pos||Driver||Car||24th April||12th June||24th July||27/28th Aug||24th Sept||25th Sept||23rd Oct||23rd Oct|
|1||James Culver||Cooper Mk X||6||7||10||10||10||10||47|
|2||Mike Fowler||Cooper Mk V||7||6||7||7||7||7||10||38|
|3||Bob Culver||Cooper Mk VIII||10||1||1||4||1||1||6||7||28|
|4||John Turner||Cooper Mk IX||1||6||1||1||1||10||1||19|
|5||Steve Jones||Cooper Mk IV||1||3||4||4||4||16|
|6||Simon Frost||Cooper Mk V||6||6||1||2||15|
|7||Neil Hodges||Cooper Mk VIII||5||4||4||1||1||1||15|
|8||Shirley Monro||Cooper Mk IV||1||1||1||5||3||1||5||15|
|9||Geoff Gartside||Cooper VIII||3||3||3||5||1||15|
|10||Nigel Ashman||Cooper VI||1||5||3||6||15|
|11||Simon Diffey||Cooper Mk XII||10||1||11|
|12||Nigel Challis||Cooper Mk VIII||4||7||11|
|14||Mark Palmer||Cooper Mk IX||1||1||4||2||8|
|15||Paul Hewes||Cooper Mk VIII||1||1||1||2||1||3||8|
|20||Martin Sheppard||Cooper Mk XII||1||1||1||1||4|
|23||David Stevenson||Cooper Mk VIII||3||3|
|Points: 1st 10, 2nd 7, 3rd 6, 4th 5, 5th 4, 6th 3, 7th 2, 8th 1. All cars taking the start receive 1 point. Best 5 results to count.|
With a little luck and some hard work, 2005 turned into a vintage season with some of the best grids and more competition than for many years. Several members decided to do step up to the plate and take responsibility for implementing change, the result was a classic racing season, and some clear improvements. We should applaud everyone involved in these initiatives, whether leading them, offering advice or just support.
The first, and most significant change happened before the start of the year. Whilst previous years had offered many opportunities for racers to field their cars, the lack of machinery was leaving grids too thin. The decision was taken to restrict the Championship to just six meetings, and prioritise these rounds. Entrants could be confident that there should be a decent turnout of friends, and we would be able to put on a decent show.
The first round did not give a hint of what was to come with just eleven cars, more so when Kerry Horan burnt a piston in qualifying and had to scratch. But absentees missed a cracking race.
Two other significant initiatives were tried at Snetterton. 500s have always been temperamental at the start, and Competitions Secretary Bob Culver took the initiative to negotiate a revised procedure. Remarkably, we got all ten cars away reasonably cleanly and with significantly less oil smoke than has been traditional. Suitably encouraged, a similar procedure was used at other meetings and was broadly successful – not only did it mean that more drivers got a decent chance of a race start for their money, but we maintained more cars on track for longer to entertain the spectators (both of them!).
Always a highlight of the calendar, it was pleasing to see twenty cars turn out, with five debutantes. Although we lost Tim Sage’s Cooper Mk II with a broken gear change, the remaining nineteen made a hugely impressive sight racing down to Coppice for the first time. Mike Fowler had made a blinding start, and John Turner’s attempts to run around the outside of Coppice led to a wild moment as the pack bore down on his sideways car. Over the Mountain for the first time we had a frantic snake of cars, led by Mike, Rodney Delves, Simon Diffey (giving
A light, persistent rain began to fall which only served to confuse things even more. Simon Diffey moved to the front, but John Turner was not prepared to cede to the ‘ringer’. David span out and rejoined with the Horan/Hodges tussle, James (crippled by unpredictable brakes) would also make several excursions, and Rodney suffered one of the more bizarre retirements (“stray marker post dislodged chain”). Simon would run out an easy winner after John also span off (joining Paul Hewes,
Impressively, the battles were not just restricted to the front, with most drivers finding a ‘partner’ at some stage of the race. This appeared to be a result of the consolidated series, combined with an overall improvement in reliability and a reduction in losses at the start. It’s always better to have an opponent, rather than trundling around on your own, and it was most encouraging that this trend would continue through the year.
The ‘rookies’ were settling in nicely, with Nigel Challis (Cooper Mk VIII) catching and passing Geoff Gartside for an eventual sixth place, while Nigel Ashman (Cooper Mk VI), Gordon Russell (in the pretty Mackson) and Martin Sheppard (Cooper Mk XII) all running comfortably, only Martin failing to finish.
Round 3 was pre-empted by yet another innovation, the Garden Party held at Charlie Smith’s farm. A chance for the “Uppy-downy” and “Roundy-roundy” boys to get together and show off their cars, as well as many restoration projects. Twenty eight cars made an appearance in various states of preparation, and a lot of useful information was traded (along with a selection of rare components). A fine idea that deserves repeating. Several cars made their way to Mallory for Sunday, where we would see another impressive 17 cars, matched with eight rather fast Juniors. Of the rookies, Nigel Ashman and Martin Sheppard appeared again, with
Frustratingly, both Nigel and Martin suffered bent valves in practice, and despite Simon Frost’s best efforts both would have to scratch. Then the long-threatened rain materialised shortly before the race, so it was a pretty miserable grid that formed up on a drenched track. From the start, Mike Fowler made another great start, chased by David LeCoq, Neil Hodges, and
Marek quickly dealt with Geoff and set off after Neil Hodges (another with water issues). Lining up a move along the pit straight, he spotted at the last moment the diminutive John aiming for a very small gap to make it three abreast. As the mechanics on pit wall took a step back, Marek wisely made space (or “bottled it” as Neil would say) and wait another chance. Further back Shirley and
One side effect of the consolidated championship was that we had not joined the 750 Trophy brigade until their sixth round. But when we did it was worth it with sixteen 500s up against an equal number of Sevens to create a packed grid for the August Bank holiday race.
So at the halfway point of the season,
After two years away, the 500s were back in the Earl of March Trophy. And quite frankly, we put on a great show. Not only was the race as good as anything else out there, but everyone really hustled in the Paddock: fielding serious enquiries, making time to talk to interested spectators, letting people have their photos taken in the cars (although it was noticed that while Geoff Gartside got the children, Neil Hodges always seemed to get the pretty girls in short skirts…), and always looking the part. Everyone can be proud of their effort. It’s just a pity the press didn’t seem to notice. Still, we have lots of evidence to justify a return in 2006.
On track, David LeCoq may have won at a canter after John Turner retired, but yet again there were battles through the field. Rodney Delves, Richard Utley and American Skip Streets, in his Staride, inches apart for the entire race in the fight for second place.
The traditional wildcard meeting this year took the drivers to the pretty circuit on the cliffs overlooking the
Both races proved eventful, gaining us the meeting headline in Autosport (a significant improvement on the usual one sentence).
Tradition again brought us back to Mallory for the season finale, this time for another double portion of 750 Trophy races. James had already secured the Championship, and Mike looked secure for runner-up, but third pace was still up for grabs, and there was the small matter of revenge for our defeat at Silverstone.
James had to miss the meeting, but sixteen 500s dominated the 28-car entry, very satisfying for so late an event. Race 1 was a classic, the best of the season. John Turner took the race-long fight to Trophy man David Brand, only to be pipped on the line by one tenth of a second. Mike Fowler, Simon Frost and Bob Culver, with a brace of Trophy cars, fought equally hard over fourth place, while Nigel Ashman hustled his way from the back row for eleventh. This was particularly impressive as he lost half of his gearstick.
Two races in one day proved a hurdle too far, and the second race was something of a letdown. There had been five engine failures in the first race, and whilst three of these cars reached the grid for the second race, none were properly bedded in and problems ensued. John Turner picked up his battle with David Brand, but retired, and the rest of the race was disappointingly processional. Only Bob Culver put on a display, just failing to hold off Roger Rowe for fourth, and so confirming his third place in the Championship. Still, that we criticise what would have been a typical race in previous years only reinforces how far expectations have risen this season. An Old Year Ends So we have to look back on a vintage racing year for the Association. After a slow start, grids were noticeably improved, and it is encouraging that this was consistently so. In previous years the “hard core” group comprised just five racers who could be relied on to turn out at almost every race. By the end of the year, that figure was more like a dozen, perhaps more, and that is probably the most positive sign of all. We've also welcomed several new competitors, and it was pleasing to see that most of these look like joining the ranks of the regulars. Maintaining a stream of new blood is vital to nurturing the Championship and every one of you has contributed to the action and the spirit. Report by Richard Hodges
Two races in one day proved a hurdle too far, and the second race was something of a letdown. There had been five engine failures in the first race, and whilst three of these cars reached the grid for the second race, none were properly bedded in and problems ensued. John Turner picked up his battle with David Brand, but retired, and the rest of the race was disappointingly processional. Only Bob Culver put on a display, just failing to hold off Roger Rowe for fourth, and so confirming his third place in the Championship. Still, that we criticise what would have been a typical race in previous years only reinforces how far expectations have risen this season.
An Old Year Ends
So we have to look back on a vintage racing year for the Association. After a slow start, grids were noticeably improved, and it is encouraging that this was consistently so. In previous years the “hard core” group comprised just five racers who could be relied on to turn out at almost every race. By the end of the year, that figure was more like a dozen, perhaps more, and that is probably the most positive sign of all. We've also welcomed several new competitors, and it was pleasing to see that most of these look like joining the ranks of the regulars. Maintaining a stream of new blood is vital to nurturing the Championship and every one of you has contributed to the action and the spirit.
Report by Richard Hodges