|Gurston Down 19th June 2011
Speed Hill Climbs are held in beautiful areas of our British countryside, and Gurston Down in the West Wiltshire Downs just South West of Salisbury is certainly one of the best. Being held on a live farm makes an interesting venue for our sport and the BARC South Western Centre made the 500 Owners Association very welcome at their well run and friendly event. After damp or wet conditions at the past three hill climbs we had dry conditions for morning practice and afternoon competition runs. There were ten little Historic 500cc race cars entered, but, like bottles on the wall, some began to fall! Tim Ross and Ted Sharpe had to withdraw as their cars were still 'poorly' and a valve had decided break on Xavier Kingsland's Norton engine at the previous weekends circuit event, so he had to withdraw too; fortunately he tells me that the damage was not too bad and that repair is well under way and his Staride will be competing again soon. Being the real enthusiasts that they are, Ted Sharpe, and Xavier and his son David, and Darrell Woods, and the ever helpful Bruce, were present in the paddock early to help work on the cars and to get us started at the required time; thank you chaps. This enabled a smooth flow of 500's to the start line and showed once again that our Club has a high degree of professionalism; I feel sure that it was appreciated by the Officials and Marshals, and by the spectators too.
Speed Hill Climbs with our Club are quite social events and we were pleased that five of our ladies were present to support the drivers and maybe keep us in order! Carol Woods took the excellent photographs; thank you Carol. Some of us had never driven at Gurston and after walking the hill we considered it to be quite a challenge. From the start there is a long downhill straight, so it is maximum acceleration up through the gears. Having got up to speed one is presented with a left hander called "Hollow Bend" and a brave driver may keep the right hand pedal fully depressed; your scribe lifted every time even after deciding not to do so! A gentle sweeping left hand bend leads to the "Karousel" which is two sharp right hand corners on a steep incline; this is difficult to get right and leads to a short uphill straight with "Deer's Leap" mid way up where the fast cars become airborne! Now into a tight left hand corner known as "Ashes Bend"; I wonder why! Maximum acceleration is now required uphill through "Burke's Rise" to go over the Finish Line as fast as possible - whew! Yes, it is different and quite a challenge, as we thought.
So, although there were only seven of us running the competition was as keen as usual. Because of the poorly running engine Mike Wood took seventh place and your scribe was sixth (still a 'new boy' and learning). Patrick Riley was fifth and team Dent were forth (John) and third (Alistair). In spite of never having driven at Gurston before, Jan Nycz gained a creditable second place. Our congratulations go to Mark Riley for his class FTD.