Cadwell VSCC Results 200609

Cadwell Park 20th June 2009

Earlier than usual, June brought us to longstanding favourite, the VSCC Cadwell Park meeting. A moderate entry of sixteen cars (and it says something of how we have progressed that sixteen is only moderate) appeared, mainly comprising the series regulars. Mark Palmer would take the helm of the Wishart, now much happier with the handling. Simon Frost transferred to Mike Gilbert’s Cooper Mk IX. Mike was due to race his Riley, but transport problems meant a no-show, more of which later. Most welcome addition was Geoff Gartside, looking much better after recent health problems. Geoff was proudly showing an article in the Grand Prix edition of Autosport, in which Sir Frank Williams recalls cadging lifts off Geoff to visit Silverstone as a youngster. Whilst Frank said “I’ll never forget his name - Geoff Gartside”, when pressed Geoff’s memory was rather less precise - “So, do you remember little Frank, then, Geoff?” “Nawww, Naw”

After the test last year, the invitation class for 1,000cc Twins doubled this year, Frederick Harper being joined by Richard Ashford in Ruth Ross’ Cooper Mk III/IV. Differentiating three silver early cars on-track made a change from the normal problems of dark green late-model Coopers, at least. Whilst cool and blustery, practice was at least dry and the track seemed to offer decent grip Four cars dipped below the two-minute barrier - Neil Hodges, Mike Fowler (back from new-Dad duties), Simon Frost and an impressive Richard Ellingworth, who made good use of trailing Neil for a few laps of unplanned tutoring. This was particularly impressive as the Martin looked a touch unstable at the rear through the Hall Bends, and was jumping out of fourth gear.

Missing at the front was Nigel Ashman, a failed quill shaft leaving the Mk XI with drive to just one wheel. Spotted before practice, Nigel scratched and took up pushes duties for the day.


Elsewhere, Richard Bishop-Miller was struggling with a slipping clutch that eventually burned out as he completed his requisite three laps. Shirley Monro stopped after a couple of laps, soon finding stray metal shavings where they shouldn’t be, and Bill set about fitting their primary “Le Mans” engine. John Jones (Cousy) pulled in with a rough-sounding Triumph, later diagnosed as an unspotted cracked cylinder barrel (which would explain his suggestion that it would run better when cold). Again, with the spare engine in rebuild, he also scratched.

The silver Twin twins completed their necessary laps, although with some maladies, Frederick ultimately not able to take up his 11th place grid position. Both cars showed decent speed on the straights comparable with the leading 500s, but were slower in the corners. As a result they broadly split the earlier and later 500s. They certainly didn’t cause any problems for the 500s, and others are welcome to try next year.

During the wait for racing, it was suggested that a rolling start should be used, and this turned out to be a very wise decision. Mid-way through Race 1, the forecast showers arrived. But this turned to a frustrating drizzle that was unable to wash away copious amounts of Castrol R shed from seven more races of various vintage cars.


Thirteen cars lined up, some in the Assembly Area and some up the entry road making use of the steep drop for push starting. This almost ended in disaster as someone attempted to shut the gate just as Richard Ashcroft and pushers went past the point of no return. Desperate screams just saved the day. It was no less hairy on circuit as Richard Bishop-Miller was barely on the circuit when he spun at Hall Bends, fortunately collecting it and retaking his place in the train. Neil and Mike were bringing the field round at what seemed a snail’s pace - so slowly we at trackside didn’t expect everyone to make it up the Mountain. Although the rain had stopped the track was treacherous. As they rounded Barn for the start, Richard Ashcroft tapped his brakes. Behind, Shirley followed suit, and Richard Bishop-Miller was off again, tapping the bales this time!

Neil and Mike are going in a straight line so this must be the formation lap. Photo John Landamore

Not quite following Indy 500 rules, Neil led the field very slowly up to the line. Whilst Simon chomped at the bit behind him, it was Mike who finally got bored, and crossed the start a length and a half ahead. Neil & Simon tucked in behind, followed at some distance by Richard Ellingworth, Brian Jolliffee, Roy Hunt, Mike Bell and Geoff Gartside. For some reason the JAP engine Cooper was quicker than the Norton along the Park straight allowing Neil to retake the lead going into Park Corner.

After an interminable wait, It was Neil that appeared first at the bottom of the Mountain. He tippy-toed over the Mountain, desperately trying to balance keeping the JAP motor on cam against wheelspin. Mike went with the rather more successful approach of focussing on just one problem - keeping his right foot down and dealing with the wild fishtailing that resulted. Lairy, but effective, and Mike finished the first lap a second ahead of Neil with Simon about two seconds off.

Back at the Mountain, Geoff had ploughed off into the grass bowl. With zero grip, the car inched ever so slowly back towards the track, whilst (quite reasonably) the marshals were unwilling to give a helping hand. Egged on by the crowd it took Geoff more than two minutes to move just a few yards, and he finally rejoined in exactly the position he had before the detour - just a whole lap down, and a rather surprised Mike Bell finding the white car right where he had planned to be!

Roy tries to plot a course between the oil slick and Geoff at the Mountain. Photo John Landamore

Lap two, and it was Neil ahead again into the Mountain, only for Mike to close the gap up the Mountain. Perhaps remembering his last appearance at a wet Cadwell with Mike’s car (which ended with it stuffed in the barrier), Simon was drifting off the battling pair ever so slightly, but comfortably ahead of Brian, who in turn was moving away from Roy - older, wiser heads opting for a survival strategy. Richard Ellingworth’s came to an end with the gear selector falling apart. Stuck in gear he motored back to the Paddock, followed by Mark Palmer who had spooked himself enough times in that first lap and a half. With the Mk IX already damaged in rain, he decided to keep at least one complete car for Le Mans. Shirley also disappeared at this point.

In sixth place, Richard Ashcroft was now in clear air, although unable to make any progress on Roy. Mike, who may well have had the measure of him, was embroiled in a false battle with Geoff. Hakan was running well further behind, but tail-end Charlie (courtesy of that pre-start excursion) Richard Bishop-Miller was catching. This despite a recalcitrant third gear that required brute force from Richard to make an appearance.

Lap three and the process was repeated. Around the faster parts of the circuit, the nervousness of Mike’s Mk V outweighed the unusable Norton advantage and Neil pulled away. Whilst twitching and fishtailing regularly, this reversed itself through the twistier Mountain section, and Mike would catch and sometimes pass Neil either there or along the bottom straight to Coppice and another lap. As the lap ended, Mike Bell got a decent run on Geoff along that same straight, and took a very bold run around the outside up the hill. Against expectations the tyres stuck and he was after Richard Ashcroft. Next time around, Richard Bishop-Miller found his way past Hakan.

Lap five, and at the Gooseneck Neil has a major moment as the grip disappears and he finds himself on the outside grass. Whilst dealing with this, he spots Mike flash past at even greater speed, and inevitably taking even more grass! This moment lost both pf them several seconds and, as they completed the lap Simon was now right on their tail, and with a sniff of victory and one lap to take it, the red mist came down. Not quite able to take Neil at Coppice, he completed the move out of Charlies and set after Mike. A twitch through the Chris Curves opened the door and Simon had the lead. Over the Mountain the three were closing up again, and it would come down to who could get the best run out of barn and to the line.

Neil uses the white line, Mike the kerb and others have clearly resorted to the grass, both had more grip than the oil! Photo John Landamore

Except it didn’t. Simon carried just a little too much speed into the treacherous braking for the Hairpin and had a half spin Mike and Neil passed before he could regain the circuit, Fowler taking the win from Hodges by two car lengths. But Frosty hadn't finished for the day, in his haste to hang onto third, he ran wide at Barn, the final corner and collected the hay bales. With the front wheels pointing in totally different directions, he struggeld to the line, fortunately he'd been far enough ahead that Brian was unable to catch him. Roy, Richard A, Mike, Richard B and Hakan all completed the full distance (Richard B most chuffed that, for the first time ever, he had not been lapped). and Geoff completed the top ten.

Helmets off in Victory Lane, Mike and Neil were grinning from ear to ear, though quite how much this was for their battle or Simon’s inevitable misfortune will have to remain with them. Despite desperately slow racing (a full thirty seconds off dry times) they certainly entertained a damp but hardy crowd. Simon returned to the Paddock on the tow truck to the expected joshing, and to make “that” phone call to Mike Gilbert (who is learning that the equation Simon +Cadwell +rain = trouble...). Damage was fortunately nothing more than a bent steering arm and some mud.

And with that, the rain returned. Everyone packed up in double-quick time for home, or to Shirley's soiree with plans for the Le Mans jaunt in a fortnight now front of mind. A healthy turn out looks likely, and there’s still time to book a ferry.

Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Class Time Laps Best

Fastest Lap: Simon Frost - Cooper Mk IX 2:28.37

DNF: Richard Ellingworth - Martin, Mark Palmer - Wishart Mk II, Shirley Monro - Cooper Mk IV  DNS: John Jones - Cousy, Nigel Ashman - Cooper Mk XI, Fred Harper - Cooper Mk IV

Championship Standings

Our thanks to the VSCC, Richard Hodges for the report and John Landamore for the photos.

1 Mile Fowler Cooper Mk V B 15:10 6 2:28.80
2 Neil Hodges Cooper Mk VIII C 15:11 6 2:28.76
3 Simon Frost Cooper Mk IX C 15:30 6 2:28.37
4 Brian Joliffe Cooper Mk IX C 15:34 6 2:33.55
5 Roy Hunt Martin B 16:04 6 2:38.73
6 Richard Ashford Cooper Mk IV D 16:40 6 2:42.18
7 Mike Bell Cooper Mk X C 16:42 6 2:43.56
8 Richard Bishop-Miller Cooper Mk II A 17:13 6 2:45.63
9 Hakan Sandberg JBS B 17:21 6 2:47.99
10 Geoff Gartside Cooper Mk VIII C 16:54 5 2:48.04

The podium; Mike, Neil and Charlie Ashman, kindly standing in for Simon Frost. Photo Nigel Ashman, quelle surprise....

Its the way I tell 'em.......