|Cadwell Park 19th June 2010
“VSCC Cadwell” is always a highlight of the regular season, despite the worst the Lincolnshire Wolds can throw at us and for the second year running it had a fair go with a penetrating wind off the North Sea and horizontal showers. A mighty twenty three cars rolled out, notably more than for any other race on the card, and better than most of of the BTCC races the same weekend. These included the regulars, old friends and relatively new faces. For the first time in some years we had three Kiefts - Ashman, Ellingworth & Delves - to take on the Cooper hordes. James Holland finally reappeared from the bush, while Tim Llewellyn brought out his Cooper Mk V in 500 trim for the first circuit run in a long time. Cadwell has also become the traditional date for the Twins to join in for a race. Richard Ashford again attended with Ruth Ross’ Cooper (this time with Ruth also on hand). Freddy Harper turned up, but the Cooper Mk IV refused to run cleanly and he would scratch. And a surprise was the Formula 4 Vixen-Triumph, a mid-60’s car belonging to Sean Mooney, which was seen in the Paddock but did not turn a wheel. It’s also a good opportunity for the Northern members to come out and be seen, as well as many Southerners making a decent trip of it.. Amongst the non-drivers were Bill Needham, John Potts, Alan Croft (still restoring his JP and supporting Shirley Monro) and Geoff Gartside. Geoff has parked up his Cooper for some time, but was talking about son Martin giving it a run soon.
Practice began just before lunch, and fortunately the weather relented a bit, with the final shower of the day just before, and a brief hint of sun. The track was only mildly damp by the time the cars set out, although of course areas under the trees were notably slippier. A short session left little time for drivers to log their three safety laps and suss the variable surface before finding track space for a good lap.
Pole went to Nigel Ashman, comfortably clear of Mike Fowler and Neil Hodges but these two were trumped by George Shackleton bumping both from the front row. The inevitable jokes would come back to bite... Missing from this group was Richard Ellingworth, this time losing its carburettor and dropping him to 12th.
Missing, though was Shirley. On her first flying lap, Shirley slid wide at Barn, and once on the wet grass slid at unabated speed into the tyre barrier. It was a fair hit that snapped the near side rear upright. Although Shirley tried to rejoin, before noticing the extreme camber of the wheel, once at the Medical centre she complained of back pain, and was sent for check-up at Grimsby Hospital. Happily it was just bruising.
We hope Bill can turn around the repairs (at least it isn’t yet another engine failure) and they can get out again soon. Surprisingly, and fortunately given the cold, problems were very limited; Ellingworth and Holland quickly had their mounts refettled and the twenty remaining crews all set in for the long wait until race time.
George struggles to find a gear at Mountain Bottom, prompting some hasty avoidance. Photo John Landamore
‘A bit of a cock-up on the starting front’ left a huge gap in the field trailing round the green flag lap, which had not closed as the leaders formed up on the grid. In the circumstances, it probably wasn’t helpful that the CoC then kept so strictly to his pre-race instructions - “As soon as I’ve got four of you in place I’ll let you go”...
First time over the Mountain, Mike was on Nigel’s tail with Neil 1.5s adrift. George however had fallen back to head the chasers, the reason becoming clear as he crested the Mountain at a snail’s pace, one hand desperately signalling to the pack that he was pulling off as the other fished for a gear. When the gearbox finally gave him one it was fourth and the car lurched and stalled. A thump of the steering wheel, and later throwing down his balaclava in frustrations caused some mirth later for those who'd been there before!
Lap 2 saw Mike pass Nigel for a slender lead. Neil was hanging off slightly, expecting the battling cars to come back to him. Unnoticed was Richard E, just four seconds behind and closing by a second or so each lap. A gap was rapidly opening to Tim, Richard A and Darrell, the first named retiring on the second lap. Unlike the week before, though, Darrell now had someone to race, and what followed was a fine battle as the nimbler Mk VIII Cooper challenged the grunt of its bigger, older brother. Nigel Challis still led the next group for seventh place, harried by John, Roy and Rodney, these three changing positions many times every lap. Not far off, and soon to latch on, was Martin Sheppard looking very racy, and on his tail was James, looking even more so. Poor old Mike Gilbert was now the only driver not in a battle, comfortably leading the final group of Malcolm, a battling David, Kerry, Richard B-m and Patrick - blanketed by just five seconds.
Not surprisingly, there were some very happy faces back in the Paddock. Sixteen out of twenty starters crossed the line at or close to full steam, and pretty much everyone had been in a proper race with someone else (and whether it’s for first or fifteenth place, that’s what it’s all about really, isn’t it?). Even the retirees were smiling. As news came through confirming Shirley was OK, and with the roads quiet and dry, everyone set off home pleased they had made the effort.
As we go into the Summer break, Nigel Ashman deservedly leads with three class wins from five. This could open the door for Richard Bishop-Miller, who seems to have won his hardest battle with reliability and now needs some more early cars to open out the class. And Darrell is the surprise leader of the late-model class, still grinding out the results over the faster but flightier Mike Fowler and Neil Hodges. And there’s a host of runners through the field who are impressing - George Shackleton, John Jones, Mike Gilbert and David Whitehouse leading but not exclusive to this list.
Richard Ellingworth in the Parker-Kieft on his way to a fine win