Silverstone 750MC Results 270806

Silverstone 27th August 2006

Report by Richard Hodges, photos by Glen Coombs
Round six of the Championship brought us back to the traditional 750 Motor Club August meet at Silverstone. Eleven cars were entered, brought up to a dozen by the later entry of Gordon Russell. Adding to the regular teams of Hodges, Fowler, Ashman, Hunt and Culver were John Turner and Paul Hewes (in the yellow Cooper Mk XI). Graham Murdock was making his first circuit appearance with the FMS since Goodwood 2005, whilst Tony Steele returned with Duncan’s Comet. After his run at Mallory, Tony has become something of a convert to the 500 movement and is looking at a recent barn find – an unknown special.....Completing the dozen was Hakan Sandberg. Rather than his usual JBS, Hakan had brought out the wonderful  RJ 500. Iit features very wide-set coil springs, a gearbox mounted above the axle and a large tail fin. One of the last survivors of this Scandinavian marque, it is always good to see something different, and being used properly. The 500s would line up against eleven 750 Trophy cars. Of note was the Beach historic Formula Vee car, piloted by Simon Windley. Clearly Robin Knight is looking to bolster the Trophy series with this new class, and is evaluating performance with this single invitation. The car ran towards the back of the grid, but did not appear to be in the best of health.

After a chilly start, the sun finally burned away the clouds for a pleasant day. Over-enthusiastic 750 Formula cars made rather a mess of the Complex with long trails of cement dust compromising the line. Despite the slippery surface, practice times were fairly competitive. Mike Fowler was fastest 500 and fourth overall, a fraction ahead of Roy Hunt. A second back were Neil Hodges, Nigel Ashman, Bob Culver and Gordon Russell in very close formation. James Culver was suffering a bad misfire and well off his expected pace.

Most cars ran well, although John Turner broke a little end after two laps. Paul Hewes broke the inner universal joint and had a nasty moment as it briefly jammed into the chassis and threw the car into the air as he headed for Brooklands Corner. The car came down safely and pulled onto the grass, but the flailing driveshaft had destroyed the lower frame tube. He would have to scratch from the race.

So the race was reduced to nineteen cars. Having rebuilt his engine, John Turner found himself lacking a spark. Some very last-minute fettling from everybody coaxed the Cooper into life, but it didn’t sound particularly clever motoring to the Assembly Area and would complete just two popping laps before retiring.

John Turner looks for assistance.

Following normal 750 Motor Club rules, the cars went straight from Assembly to the start, with no formation lap. The Silverstone marshals seemed to have a rather different view of the grid formation from the drivers and a lot of shuffling ensued.  Inevitably, engines and drivers began to overheat, though thankfully all the 500s just about got away.

Once the red lights eventually went out, Roy at least made a decent start to take a strong third place. Both Culvers struggled to get away, a stationary James baulking Tony. James’ quickly cleared and he rapidly carved through to take fifth place down the back straight, chasing Mike Fowler. After a Trophy car, Neil, Nigel and Gordon were in close company, with Bob, Graham and Tony spread out behind. Some way off the field were Hakan (badly oiled plug, which would take several laps to clear), and the bright pink Hague of Paul Mason – Paul was struggling from the delayed start, having qualified third, and this would become significant towards the end of the race.

Into Brooklands for the first time, David Brand led from son Linden, and Roy. Brand Junior pushed too hard and spun at the apex. Roy span to the infield in avoidance, and it took a frustrating half a minute to find a gear, now well off the main field. Once underway, he pushed hard and would get close to the pack. So second time around, Dave Brand had a decent lead from James and Mike, then Nic Grele, Neil, Nigel and Gordon. A recovering Linden Brand would soon join this band, then a few seconds further back was Bob, clear of a group of Trophy cars. Tony Steele passed Graham into Luffield, whilst Roy was catching fast, and would pass Graham at the start of the fourth lap.

At this stage Dave Brand appeared to have James covered, and the gap remained steady at about one second. Nic Grele was caught in no-man’s land, but behind him Neil had found a way past Mike, with Nigel and Linden Brand in very close attendance. This was a very impressive drive from the JAP-powered car on what might be assumed to be a power circuit, and was even more impressive given Neil’s additional problems. First, the megaphone had detached itself from the exhaust pipe and was hanging on by the suspension mount (causing Mike some consternation!). This gave the Cooper a distinctive note and maybe changed the power curve – perhaps a straight –through pipe should be added to the Christmas list… More of a practical issue, however, was that the gearbox was baulking on fourth gear, which would cause some interesting moments.

Hakan in the wonderful RJ500

Gordon was unable to stay in touch with this group, with a flat, low on power engine, and he was drifting back towards Bob. Tony was five seconds behind, but on the back straight slowed to retire. A tappet arm had snapped. Whilst this meant no damage to the top end, frustratingly a strip down would be required to locate a missing locknut. Over the next two laps, James began to pressurise Dave Brand. Linden Brand, having struggled to clear the Coopers, now raced ahead, passing Nic Grele and closing down the leading pair. The three Coopers were at it gangbusters, running line astern. Neil took to the grass at Copse, Mike got loose at Becketts, almost giving Nigel a run into Brooklands. There, all three discovered a spray of gravel leading to some very interesting moments, though the order remained the same.

The source of the gravel was Mr. Sandberg. By lap 4, the oiling was finally beginning to clear, but throttle response was somewhat unpredictable. On lap 4, this spat him out onto the gravel at Brooklands, and he took a bumpy ride across the Complex to eventually rejoin the track somewhere around Woodcote. the RJ 500 was still well off its pace in practice, and on the ninth tour, having been lapped by the leaders, the car threw its chain, severing the fuel line. Of course, a fighting drive from Nigel Ashman is incomplete without a spin, and it finally came at Becketts hairpin on the sixth lap. With Neil and Mike tripping over each other, Nigel was trying alternative lines to get a good run down one of the straights. This time his line was just a bit too alternate, and around he went. He lost only five seconds, and whilst he reduced this he was never quite able to close it completely.

Lap 7, and James was all over Dave Brand, whilst Linden was now within a second. Eighth time through Luffield Linden tried going around the outside (the move that won the race for his father in the same car last year), but this time James was able to fend him off and thereafter Linden would slowly drop away. Neil had eked out nearly two seconds from Mike Fowler, and Nigel was about the same behind. Gordon was finally caught and passed by Bob, also on the eighth lap. Roy was closing the gap, but would finish three seconds after the Mackson. Graham was pedalling comfortably a lap down, readily admitting that he was not brave enough through the bends.
And that appeared to be the race settled. But on lap ten James came back on Dave Brand, and took the lead. Dave fought back, but James seemed to have him covered. On the last run into the Complex, James had just under a seconds lead, but was closing rapidly on Paul Mason’s Hague.

Neil, leads Mike, leads Nigel through Woodcote.

James saw that he could be badly baulked through the two long corners of Brooklands and Luffield, and gambled on a late dive into the former. Paul was already committed, and tapped the Cooper into a half spin to the infield. After a moments hesitation, James was back underway, but the family Brand were both past, and yet again the Trophy boys had stolen top honours at the last moment.

Despite this frustration, yet again we put on a superb show with the Trophy lads. A spectating Brian Joliffe and friends were most impressed with both the pace and reliability. Neil Hodges and Nigel Ashman both continue to find more speed and can consistently run with Roy and Mike. Gordon Russell piped everyone in the Gentlemen Drivers and has now closed to within 3 points of Mike with one round to go. Looking to the final round at Mallory Park in October, the Championship is far from settled. James Culver will have to attend and score, otherwise both Mike Fowler and Roy Hunt could easily walk away with the overall trophy and Mike needs another good score to stay ahead of Gordon on handicap. This will be another 750 Trophy race, and was a cracker last year.

Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Time Laps Best Fastest lap: James Culver 1:16.43

DNF: Hakan Sandberg - RJ500, Tony Steele - Comet, John Turner - Cooper Mk IX

Our thanks to the 750 Motor Club.

Championship Positions

Race report by Richard Hodges

Photos by kind permission of Glen Coombs

1 James Culver Cooper Mk X 14:32 11 1:16.43
2 Neil Hodges Cooper Mk VII 14:59 11 1:19.75
3 Mike Fowler Cooper Mk V 15:01 11 1:20.40
4 Nigel Ashman Cooper Mk VI 15:05 11 1:20.21
5 Bob Culver Cooper Mk VIII 15:21 11 1:20.94
6 Gordon Russell Mackson 15:24 11 1:22.08
7 Roy Hunt Martin 15.28 11 1:20.19
8 Graham Murdoch FMS 14:57 10 1:27.74

James Culver wins

Gentleman Driver's Award

and Gordon proves he is a gentleman, again.

Pos Name Car

Gentleman Driver's Award standings 



1 Gordon Russell Mackson
2 Mike Fowler Cooper Mk V
3 Neil Hodges Cooper Mk VIII
4 James Culver Cooper Mk X
5 Nigel Ashman Cooper Mk VI
6 Graham Murdock FMS
7 Bob Culver Cooper Mk
8 Roy Hunt Martin

Tony Steele pedals the Comet

Nigel Ashman's Cooper Mk VI