The British Automobile Racing Club Midlands Centre have a reputation for organising a good event and they certainly did so again with this Sprint. Saturday 5th October was another chance for 500 Owners Association members to enjoy a relaxing day at the Curborough Sprint Course, and four 500cc cars competed.
The day dawned grey and miserable (bit like this scribe really!) but as the drivers arrived and started taking race cars off trailers the drizzle stopped. Mugs of hot tea helped the activity and soon we were signing-on and having cars scrutineered. The weather was gradually improving.
At drivers briefing we requested that the 500's be sent to the start line without queuing but unusually our class was scheduled mid programme. The only hiccup in the organisation occurred when we were called for first practice to find a long queue. Fortunately, Darrell Woods was nearby acting as mechanic for Carol's lovely Austin Ulster Special, and he quickly negotiated and helped turn us round to return to our 'comfort zone' where we had set up with roller starters and equipment at top of slope to the paddock; thanks Darrell. The Clerk of the Course realised that he had nominated two new marshals to the paddock and had not explained when to send the 500's to the start. All was made easy when we were re-scheduled to run last in the programme and sent to an empty start line.
During the two practice runs in the morning some cars in other classes proved that the track surface was slippery by their 'gyrations', but the 500's went well. On his first run, Mike Wood tried an unusual line through the molehill chicane that left him changing the exit to a drive across the grass; after this excursion Mike kept to 'the black stuff' and reported it was much better! Jan Nycz and Alan Hartfield were firing-up their engines on roller starters and it was impressive to see Deirdre and Gwen operating the jacks to lower their husband's race cars so that they could drive away; well done ladies and thank you.
The cars had behaved themselves during the morning so we were able to relax with our lunch, as a most welcome sun started to shine. Just after other classes started the timed runs, Mike and Darrell were discussing Dellorto carburettors when Mike suddenly noticed a broken rear suspension bracket on his IOTA. Fortunately Mike had a spare with him and he and Darrell worked very quickly to change the bracket; with only seconds to the first timed run they had the IOTA ready – whew!
All four 500's completed their first timed run without drama and with the track surface now dry and warm the times were better than in practice, being within the 70 'something' seconds. Jan N has got the Norton engine performing well and was easily the fastest. Alistair Hunt had posted a good time but then noticed an issue with his Juno and decided to withdraw from the second timed run, so then there were three green bottles! For the second timed run, Mike ran first but could not better his first run, and then Alan thought he had driven quickly only to find it was only 0.04 of a second better. Jan, who was next to run, had got out of his immaculate Staride at the start line and we were dismayed to see him pushing it back to the paddock, assisted by the ever helpful Darrell. So now there were only two green bottles! After fearing a catastrophe it was good to see Jan with engine running normally again after refuelling; the Norton must be rather thirsty!
For the 500cc Class, Jan Nycz was awarded a well deserved first trophy and Alistair Hunt was presented with a second place trophy. Our thanks to the Officials, Marshals, Medical and Rescue teams for their hard work to make this a most enjoyable and relaxing event.
Report by Alan Hartfield
Cooper Mk V-JAP
At the last AGM our hard working Sprint and Hill Climb Secretary, Paul Harris, requested that more 500cc cars compete in the sprints that he had arranged for this years programme. It has been good to see that some drivers have entered the sprints, which provide a different challenge to the hills and are enjoyable and fun. The sprints are often held on full circuits or at historic venues, and speeds are generally faster; they are an excellent 'training ground' for drivers to progress to circuit racing and I recommend these sprints to all 500 OA members.