|Cadwell Park 25th April 2011|
The weather at Cadwell has not been kind to us for the last few years, so planning on an Easter weekend visit seemed to be just asking for trouble. But there was just enough heat left in the air from a summer-like week before Easter weekend, and despite a debilitating wind off the North Sea trying to blow any joy out of the day, we ultimately had one of the best opening weekends for many years. The event was a new meeting, with the Historic Sports Car Club trying to establish a regular outing at the Lincolnshire Circuit. The theme this debut year was 60 years of the Autosport Formula III championship (like some others, conveniently ignoring Ken Carter’s 1950 HLCC win), with races for all the historic series from 500s, through Juniors, one-litre screamers and 1600s to the 2-litre championship. It is rare to see such an impressive collection of small-bore single-seater machinery around a very busy paddock.
An early practice session showed that the warm track was giving up a lot of grip – four cars dipping under the two-minute barrier. Ashman and Hodges would lead, from Russell (benefiting from also running the Junior in the previous session) and Ellingworth, then Fowler and Jolliffe barely over the 120 second mark. Martin Sheppard was seventh with a very good 2’04” and Kerry Horan equally so with a 2’07” (although causing some alarm to following drivers who were sprayed with methanol from where a float bowl was supposed to be. George Shackleton and Roy Hunt completed the top ten, the former surprisingly off his expected pace due to fuel issues, the latter as usual saving himself for the race.
Vernon Williamson in the Prototype JP
Battles continued right through the field. Peter Kumlin had a fight with David Stevenson for the first few laps until the latter expired. The two Richards ran in close company for a while (Bishop-Miller losing the oil from his gearbox trouble followed inevitably by the gearbox), and Paul Hewes and David Whiteside were having great fun passing and repassing for several laps. This came to an end when Paul retired on lap 6 with gearbox woes, pulling up at exactly the same tyre stack as in practice. Vernon’s JP developed a serious misfire, but he plugged on as tail-end Charlie. He would get the finish, two laps down.
So a big field, lots of great racing, and no major damage at the end. What more can you ask for? The next race is a high profile event with the VSCC See Red meeting, and at Donington Park, a circuit I do not believe we have visited for five years. It looks like the story of the season is going to be the second group of drivers – Darrell, JB, Roy and more. Not only is the competition here getting fiercer, they seem to be edging closer to the leaders. We already have a couple of new drivers and new cars (and they’re not late-model Coopers, adding some variety). This could be a very interesting year – even if your car isn’t ready, it will be worth making your way to Donington.
Neil Hodges - Cooper Mk VIII