Prescott BOC Results 230706

Prescott Hill 23rd July 2006

Thanks to the efforts of Richard Neale of The Cooper Car Club, one of the best collections of 500s in recent years gathered at Prescott this July to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the competition debut of the Cooper “500”.

After a wet Classic meeting on Saturday, Sunday promised better weather but sadly it was not to be and practice was wet and very slippery. With so many 500s competing we were implored by the Clerk of The Course to behave ourselves. Nevertheless there were a number of red flag incidents, none serious I’m pleased to report, which served to remind quite how much frustration and hard work is involved in running a 500.

As well as the competition itself, there was a parade of Coopers from the earliest (David Morgan’s Austin 7 based Type 1) to the last in the form of a Mini Cooper S. The later formula cars were represented by the superb ex Vic Elford F1 Cooper-Maserati T86 but a lack of manoeuvrability (and silencing) prevented it from ascending the hill. Many seldom seen cars turned out including, most significantly, the Eric Brandon 500 prototype number two of Peter Harvey. Currently this car is a non runner pending restoration but we did see Peter Kendall in John Turner’s well known Cooper MkIX, Joy Rainey in another Mk IX similar to the car her father Murray raced in Australia, Martin Sheppard’s Mk XII resplendent in post 1960 dark blue works livery and debutantes Stephen Brennan from Dublin with a JAP powered Mk VIII and drag racer Mike Pickup with a Mk V recently imported from America. Representing the twins Jo White very much enjoyed her runs in Terry Prince’s Vincent engined Mk VIII but Spencer Elton’s ex Boshier-Jones Mk X was sadly a no show.

Moving to the competition itself the track was now dry save for the odd damp patch in The Esses after the sun came out mid morning and it was also now extremely warm. The non Cooper 500s ran in a separate class and with John Jones’s interesting Cousy not ready in time Jan Nycz was the sole contender who nevertheless recorded a very respectable 57.47 secs on his first competitive run at Prescott.

Of the Coopers Tony Hodson’s neatly restored Mk II wasn’t a runner but we were lucky enough to see two more Mk IIs, those of Tim Sage and Richard Bishop-Miller. Tim recorded 65.09 secs on his first run while Richard’s first run ended prematurely with cam follower failure. Three Mk Vs were competing and of these hillclimb ace Jon Brough set the pace with a blistering 52.46 secs ahead of Neil Brown in Simon Frost’s old car and Keith Robinson. Of the Mk VIs John Dent recorded 56.94 secs on his only completed run while circuit racer Nigel Ashman put up a respectable 58.25.
Usually MK VIIIs are the most numerous type but there was a mere three at Prescott. Expert Steve Lawrence posted 53.93 secs to achieve 2nd spot behind Jon Brough while Chairman Nigel Challis recorded 57.49 secs to put him at the front of the circuit racers. Your writer then spoiled the proceedings by clobbering the tyre wall at the exit of The Esses bending a suspension upright in the process and removing himself from the competition for the afternoon.

John Turner was enjoying his first hillclimb for over twenty years with his Mk IX and it was clearly all coming back to him with a 55.20 second run for third place. Fellow circuit racers Mike Gilbert and Mark Palmer followed in their Mk IXs recording 62.53 and 61.39 secs respectively and Charles Reynolds was the final Mk IX runner posting a very decent 57.13 secs in his immaculate JAP powered car. Final runner was ardent hillclimb supporter Make Lawrence who narrowly pipped Charles Reynolds recording 57.02 secs in his Mk X based special.

With the weather warmer still and all traces of dampness gone the second runs promised still quicker times and Jon Brough improved to 52.33 secs to put the class win out of reach despite Steve Lawrence knocking more than a second off his time to record 52.52 secs . John Turner improved by a significant margin as well to secure 3rd spot with a time of 54.35 secs. and Nigel Challis leap frogged to 4th with a run of 56.80 secs just piping Mike Lawrence (56.85 secs) and Charles Reynolds (56.89 secs).

There was a fine turnout of seven Cooper twins. Sadly Alistair Dent’s blown Mk VI was a non starter while Ruth Ross’s delightful Mk III failed on her first run as did Terry Wright in the Walton-Cooper Mk VIII. At the front of the field Dave Andrews established a clear lead in his all too rarely seen Mk VII recording 52.87 secs ahead of Steve Lister in the ex Terry Smith Mk X on 56.76 secs and Tom Willoughby in his father’s well known blown Mk VII. It was good to see former RAC Hillclimb Champion David Good out again in his old Mk VIII.

On the second runs Dave Andrews consolidated his lead with an improvement to 52.79 secs while Steve Lister knocked over two and a half seconds off his time with a run of 54.40 secs. Terry Wright kept the Walton-Cooper in check to record 55.38 secs for 3rd place.

It is worth mentioning the Formula Junior class as several 500 OA members past and present took part. Organiser Richard Neale shared Peter Jackson’s T56 and undiplomatically beat the owner by three seconds! Martin Sheppard also took part in his later T59. There were many other significant Coopers present which fall outside the scope of this report which nonetheless merit a mention, if only to show the quality of the entry. John Potts Triumph powered T4 sports is of course very closely related to the original 500 prototypes while Martin Eyre brought out the ex Patsy Burt T43 Climax and Scott Taylor ran the ex Jim Russell T45. The Cooper MGs of Richard Hirst and Mike Wood represented the early sports cars and T39 Bobtails were fielded by Bob Searles, Reg Broome and Guy Spollon. On static display was the barn find ex David Hepworth Chevrolet powered T45 recently bought at auction by his family. It would be nice to see it kept as such to remind us of the time when such hybrids were a popular part of the hillclimb scene.

Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Time FAIL: Richard Bishop-Miller - Cooper Mk II
James Holland - Cooper Mk VIII

N/S: Tony Hodson - Cooper Mk II
John Jones Cousy - Triumph

Two more people specifically deserve a mention; for being the most helpful chap in the paddock Simon Frost, who must have push started about two dozen cars as well as ministering to countless paddock problems and for sheer perseverance Richard Bishop-Miller, who trailed his car down from Cumbria behind his Mk 1 Land Rover with family on board and rebuilt his engine in the paddock after it broke a cam follower in practice only for it to break again on his class run. Keep the faith, Richard!

Our thanks to the Bugatti Owners Club for staging such a wonderful meeting.

Report by James Holland

1 Jon Brough Cooper Mk V 52.33
2 Steve Lawrence Cooper Mk VII 52.52
3 John Turner Cooper Mk IX 54.45
4 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII 56.80
5 Mike Lawrence Cooper Mk X 56.85
6 Charles Reynold Cooper Mk IX 56.89
7 John Dent Cooper Mk VI 56.94
8 Jan Nycz Staride 57.47
9 Nigel Ashman Cooper Mk VI 57.61
10 Neil Brown Cooper Mk V 59.51
11 Keith Robinson Cooper Mk V 61.39
12 Mark Palmer Cooper Mk IX 61.39
13 Mike Gilbert Cooper Mk IX 62.53
14 Tim Sage Cooper Mk II 63.14

The JAP engine; simple, powerful and occasionally reliable.....