Brands Hatch Results 260414

Brands Hatch 26th April 2014

The circus moved on to Brands Hatch for Round 2, with the 750 Motor Club effectively a re run of the rain cancelled Cadwell Park race last October, and the early morning weather suggested it may come to a similar fate. But it would gradually improve through the day, in fact turning out rather nice. The race, for the Lewis-Evans Trophy, was exclusively for 500s, rather than the long-awaited match-up against the 750 Trophy boys, and a relatively poor entry of eleven cars was reduced when Mike Fowler was unable to make a Saturday race.

Star  of the ten, though was Alan Croft, finally debuting his ex-Ian Sutherland JP-Vincent. Not raced since 1951, it had spent some time as a road car, and has required almost complete reconstruction. In the end, much of this had to be done by Alan himself (with some help from neighbour Bill Tull), and they can be most proud of the results. Reliability was impressive, and with only a brief shakedown at Blyton under his belt, Alan would complete a full practice session and race without significant problem – some credit going to the Bob Culver-supplied, and often overlooked Vincent Grey Flash engine. The other entry of note was Charles McCabe’s Cooper Mk XIII, being driven by Simon Frost.

Daryl Woods in Practice

A delay to the session was a mixed blessing. On the one hand it gave time for the rain to abate, but on the other it was caused by the marshals having to clear up a couple of huge oil slicks (which for once the 500s couldn’t be blamed) that would make entry to Druids and Graham Hill bend something of a gamble.

On a still damp track there were several spins and trips towards the grass, but clearly the most committed was Richard de la Roche, who trumped three late-model Cooper Nortons to take a superb pole position. Simon would be beside him, with Darrell Woods and Ian Phillips making up the second row. Neil Hodges looked somewhat cautious (and was one of those to go around). Post-session Neil would find a mystery pool of oil in the belly of the car, but a strip down found no source, and he decided to go to the race as-is.

John Jones had failed to even get on track when the coil failed on his Cooper-Triumph. Post-session he and Simon drove off to the Aladdin’s Cave that must be the Frost workshop, and duly returned with a suitable replacement, so all ten cars would present for the race.

Finally, spare a thought for Alan who, with just one competitive outing to his credit (at Curborough, in Shirley’s Cooper some years back) had to come to terms with an unfamiliar car and an unknown course in very tricky conditions. And the first chance he got to learn the racing line from others came when pretty much all of them stormed pass in a battling group! Welcome to 500s, Alan.

Daryl has his head down, literally, followed by Richard, Simon and Ian. Green Flag or Lap1, all the same really....

Come race time, the weather had improved dramatically – not only had the track dried and even some sun peeked through, but none of the expected follow-up showers had arrived either.

The race start would prove somewhat confusing. And unsure of what had happened everyone took the safe course of blaming any and everybody else…

Noting that we haven’t actually raced with the 750 MC for several years, best guess is that a final radio instruction from the CoC to the marshals – reported as “Get rid of them as quickly as possible” – was misinterpreted by the starter on the gantry. Rather than beginning the normal slow-speed formation lap, the first half-dozen cars left Assembly as normal, only to see a 5-second board held out and immediately followed by the start lights going out. This in turn confused the lead drivers – to quote Darrell “I thought “Are we really doing this? Apparently yes!”” – and in somewhat uncertain and unformed fashion off they shot.

Oops a daisy!, Neil visits the grassy bit of Druids

Of course, not only were these half-dozen not in a vaguely organised grid arrangement, but the remaining four hadn’t even got on track. Shirley’s Cooper took a second push to fire, and Nigel and JB had waited briefly. Alan had got going as well and with a lengthy explanation of the start procedure still ringing in his ears had clipped on, expecting to catch up to the leaders. But unaware of what was happening ahead these four proceeded onto a formation lap, JB even waving cars past on this Lap 1! They were further confused when they returned to the grid only to find no-one waiting, or any instructions. It was only after a second formation lap (perhaps because of the change of conditions?) that this group twigged that it was indeed “on”, and of course they were now the thick end of a lap behind.

Now in truth this probably didn’t have too much effect on the actual result, but of course the likes of Nigel and JB didn’t even get a chance to tackle the Smith and Staride likely to be just ahead of them. A lesson has to be learned, if only someone can work out what that lesson is.

But back to the racing. In the dry, the Smith-JAP was going to struggle against the much later Cooper-Nortons, and Darrell capitalised on the start to eke out a lead of a couple of seconds. Simon took a couple more laps to pass the Smith, with Ian getting past half a lap later as they started the fifth lap. For the next four laps Ian would push very hard, right on the tail of the silver Cooper and looking for that small mistake from Simon that would give him the run on one of the straights, or the surprise attack at Druids or Clearways. It was a hard fight but the opportunity never came and as they came to lap JB and Nigel, it was Ian that lost out. Whilst it was just a couple of seconds lost, and no matter how hard he pushed, the gap refused to come down as Simon could just concentrate on his own drive. With Darrell always just out of reach, that was the podium positions settled to the end.

Xavier focussed on the Paddock apex, JB focussed on Xavier.

With the big three away, the next battle was as Richard tried to hang on to fourth. Hunting him down was Xavier, again driving very impressively. Neil was not in a position to challenge, as he had finally found the source of his oil leak when the brake pedal disappeared. This discovery was made upon reaching Druids on the opening/formation lap and he spun. Recovering to at least check (and of course with no more cars behind him), what may have started as a plan to retire became a drive for points, particularly as he realised that most of the braking areas are uphill here.

Xavier found a way past the Smith on Lap 6 and for most of the remainder of the race stayed in sight of Ian’s Cooper, only in the last couple of laps did the gap drift from 3-4 seconds to 7. Richard tried hard, but drifted back by around half a second each time around, finishing fifth.

And what of the second race? Once they eventually realised they were racing, JB and Nigel pulled away from Shirley. Alan was running quite a bit slower than these three but still at a fair rate for an unassisted debut. Nigel had a few stabs at the position but JB began to put just enough light between them as the race headed to mid-distance. But as the leaders came through to lap them that changed, although coincidentally. JB led by a couple of seconds but completing lap 9 (as Ian completed the first batch of lapping) the clutch began to slip. Nigel quickly closed the gap and went through at Paddock. Like Neil, JB nursed the car through the remaining laps drifting back half a minute to almost get caught by Shirley at the flag.

To complete the show, it was appropriate that Steve Lewis-Evans was waiting in the Paddock while the trophy was being awarded back up in pit lane, with Bev “soon-to-be-Mrs” Phillips deputising.

Looking on the bright side, no one failed to finish, and despite the problems it had been a decent race. We now have a lengthy break with two bank holidays to retire to the garage and prep the cars. Let’s see a full turnout for Cadwell Park in June.

Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Class Time Laps Best

Fastest Lap

Class P1: Shirley Monro - Cooper Mk IV-JAP

Class P2: Xavier Kingsland - Staride-Norton

Class P3: Darrell Woods - Cooper Mk XII-Norton

JAP: Richard Del La Roche - Smith-JAP


DNF: Nobody!


Provisional Points


Words by Richard Hodges

Pics by Mike Wood

Start by Headway

1 Darrell Woods Cooper Ml XII-Norton P3 14:01 13 1:03.49
2 Simon Frost Cooper Mk XIII-Norton P3 14:05 13 1:03.72
3 Ian Phillips Cooper Mk X-Norton P3 14:07 13 1:03.63
4 Xavier Kingsland Staride-Norton P2 14:13 13 1:04.50
5 Richard de la Roche Smith-JAP P2 14:20 13 1:05.03
6 Neil Hodges Cooper Mk VIII-JAP P3 15:08 13 1:07.73
7 Nigel Challis Petty-Norton P3 14:27 12 1:07.75
8 JB Jones Cooper Mk-IX-Triumph P3 14:59 12 1:07.38
9 Shirley Monro Cooper Mk IV-JAP P1 15:01 12 1:10.03
10 Alan Croft JP-Vincent P1 14:15 10 1:23.32

Frosty leads DLR and Ian Phillips out of Graham Hill Bend