Cadwell Park VSCC Results 210506

Cadwell Park 21st May 2006

For the third year in succession, VSCC Cadwell promised rain, so the early arrivals battened down the hatches for a cold , wet night. Sixteen cars were entered, but this soon dropped to thirteen. Perhaps Wiscombe the week before (which means two long journeys for many) restricted the entry, but it was frustrating for what many regard as the blue riband event when we are not invited to Goodwood.

Several drivers who have previously been considered regulars have not come out so far this year, and we hope to see you soon. One such was local girl Shirley Monro, who has been quite ill recently. Bill has taken the opportunity to give her ex-Moss Cooper a full strip down, and both are targeting a return for the race at Angouleme. Shirley was able to put in a welcome appearance to watch the race, and encouraging everyone to consider attending what might be the last opportunity to run on the French streets.

Race day began surprisingly dry, but the forecast was for persistent rain. The baker’s dozen of 500s were to share the race with a handful of larger cars competing for the Shuttleworth, Nuffield and Len Thompson Trophies. A scan of the entry list suggested that these should disappear into the distance and not intrude on our own race. But in the VSCC’s own peculiar way a few more cars from other races were to be included in the same practice session. There were a few nervous glances as the 500s rolled into assembly Area, only to be greeted by 27 litres of flame-spitting Napier Bentley!

The rain had held off for practice, but someone in the previous session managed to lay a trail of oil around nearly half the circuit. All thirteen cars got away well and cautiously gauged the grip. John Turner quickly developed a misfire , the cause becoming obvious when the carburettor fell off! Rather impressively, John wedged it back on and got a push back onto the track. Within a lap a brake pipe fractured, and he had an interesting moment bringing the car to a halt. This left him with just one cautious lap and well down the grid.

Most bizarre was the sight of the giant Bentley being mugged by a trio of tiny 500s. Fowler, Hodges and Russell were all clearly faster than the red giant, but could not find a way past. Despite the Bentley having to brake much earlier (nearly 100 yards earlier into Coppice), any move had to be clear and decisive. Neil found a way past into Mansfield, only for the Napier engine to blast back ahead on the run towards the Mountain.

Geoff Gartside leads James Holland

Photo courtesy of Dan Edge

Nigel Ashman's Mk VI

Photo courtesy of Dan Edge

Others had an easier run. David Lecoq was fastest at 2’ 03”, a respectable time for the conditions. Roy Hunt, Mike and Neil were bracketed by half a second with Gordon a second off. Another close group was lining up comprising Nigels Challis & Ashman, Geoff Gartside and James Holland. Simon Frost was running Mike Gilbert’s Cooper-JAP Mk IX and lost his exhaust. The car, which Mike debuted at Brands Hatch, has now been painted in a deep Racing Green and looks very tidy. Mike himself was busy with his Riley. Bringing up the rear were Mark Palmer (learning his way around Cadwell Park in the coil-sprung Cooper Mk VIII) and Bill Needham back in his Mk IV.

John Turner excepted, there were no major issues around the Paddock, though soon after lunch the rain finally arrived with a vengeance. A sortie into the woods showed several large puddles and a small stream over the blind brow into the Hairpin. Combined with the remaining oil, and muddy tyres from the sodden practice, a cautious start was highly recommended.

While the three Cooper Bristols and Lagonda blasted away at the front, first 500 David Lecoq made a howler of a start – by his own admission looking to the wrong side of the track for the flag! Roy and Neil also made poor starts, and it was Mike Fowler (back to his demon starts) and Gordon who headed the group into Coppice. Conditions out on the exposed back circuit were treacherous, with the spray totally hiding the cars ahead. By the time the cars reached the Mountain, David had moved back ahead of Mike. Close behind were the Austin-MG of Terence Rowing, then Gordon, Neil, Edward Gibbs’ Frazer Nash, Roy, a charging Simon, Tim Metcalfe’s Eccles Rapier, Mark Palmer, Nigel Challis and John Turner. Geoff and James Holland were in close formation as were Nigel Challis and Bill Needham. Across the line, Mark made a move to pass David, and a couple of seconds back Gordon got a run past Neil. Simon Frost passed Roy, and set off after the yellow Cooper and the Mackson.

Second time around, David had re-passed Mike for the class lead. Separated by the Austin-MG, Neil had also retaken Gordon, who now had Simon pushing hard. Neil had good speed, but from the start had clutch problems which were worsening. Across the line Gordon was back ahead and pulling away. John Turner had cut through a group of 500s and was clearly being held up by the Eccles Special. Nigel Challis got a run past Geoff over the Mountain and Nigel Ashman was keeping a watching brief. After two DNFs due to spins this year, Nigel A was determined to see the flag, and was being very cautious in the tricky and changeable conditions.

On the third lap those conditions started to catch people out. Although the rain was beginning to ease, more rivers were forming across the tarmac. David had again passed Mike for the lead, but a moment in the woods let Mike gain a 50 yard lead over the finish line. Though Neil had eked out a gap over Gordon, his clutch finally cried off and he pulled over by the Mountain. Gordon and Simon steamed into the Mountain approach together, but only Gordon appeared over the crest. Simon had been caught out by a stream, and ploughed straight on into the tyre wall. A bent nose and broken steering ended his race, and promised an ‘interesting’ discussion with Mike Gilbert!

Some twenty seconds further back John Turner was being badly delayed by the Eccles Special and had Geoff to contend with, now back past Nigel Challis. John finally made the break on lap 4 and quickly opened a gap on Geoff, who would remain bottled up for several more laps. James Holland and Mark Palmer were settled on a cautious run for the flag.

David had also eased off, allowing Mike to ease out a four second advantage. But Gordon and Roy were already on his tail and soon past. Roy was on a charge, and made a run at the Mackson on the fifth lap into Park. In Gordon’s words “Going up Park Straight I saw the Martin and thought “Hullo, someone knows something I don’t”. At the corner he went straight on, and I thought “Maybe he doesn’t””. Roy recovered behind the Petty, but yet another grassy moment (perhaps his fifth) finally convinced him to hold station. Gordon, meanwhile was starting to close down the gap to Mike, who thought he was safe in the class lead. But with the gap down to a second, the Mackson’s motor made some very nasty noises and was out.

Geoff was still blocked in by the Eccles, and losing time to John Turner. Geoff finally got his chance over the start line as the race-winning Cooper Bristol of Max Fraser came to lap them both. Within the lap Geoff was on John’s tail. Although driving with his usual verve, John was not setting the times ad it later became apparent that his engine was intermittently cutting out. Depending on what his motor decided to do each lap, John would yo-yo across the gap between Paul Cobden’s Riley and Geoff. Whatever the cause, John would hold Geoff back to the line.

So on the final tour, Mike now held a comfortable lead of fifteen seconds that he would eke out to 17 on the line. Roy was catching David, though there seemed little chance of passing him. Until, that is, they crested the brow to the Hairpin, only to find Bill spinning there. That this was Bill’s fourth spin in some fifty ears of racing suggests how tricky the conditions were. David came out of it best, to take second place by a few yards. John Turner held off Geoff for fourth place, Nigels Challis and Ashman running in sixth and seventh. James Holland had a comfortable gap over Mark Palmer for eighth, but on the final tour also spun into retirement. Bill got going to come home last.

So after three rounds, Mike Fowler leads the championship and the Gentleman Driver’s award, with Roy and Gordon in close attendance. Next meeting is again at Cadwell Park, a double-header with the 750 Motor Club late in June. England will already be out of the World Cup by then, so no excuses!

Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Time Laps Best Fastest lap: Simon Frost 2:15.08

DNF: Gordon Russell - Mackson, James Holland - Cooper Mk VIII, Neil Hodges - Cooper Mk VIII, Simon Frost - Cooper Mk IX

Our thanks the the Vintage Sports Car Club.

Championship Positions

1 Mike Fowler Cooper Mk V 19:02 8 2:19.45
2 David Lecoq Petty 19:19 8 2:20.06
3 Roy Hunt Martin 19:19 8 2:18.42
4 John Turner Cooper Mk IX 19:40 8 2:21.79
5 Geoff Gartside Cooper Mk VIII 19:42 8 2:21.79
6 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII 17:33 7 2:26.33
7 Nigel Ashman Cooper Mk VI 17:38 7 2:28.48
8 Mark Palmer Cooper Mk VIII 18:08 7 2:29.11
9 Bill Needham Cooper Mk IV 19:58 7 2:42.30
Gentleman Driver's Award

Pos Name Car

Gentleman Driver's Award standings 

Photos kindly provided by Dan Edge. More are available at

1 Mike Fowler Cooper Mk V
2 Roy Hunt Martin
3 John Turner Cooper Mk IX
4 Nigel Ashman Cooper Mk VI
5 Geoff Gartside Cooper Mk VIII
6 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII
7 Mark Palmer Cooper Mk VIII