Lydden Results 031009

Lydden Hill 3rd & 4th October 2009

An excellent entry of 19 cars gathered at Lydden Hill over the weekend of 3rd and 4th October for the final round of the 500 OA Circuit Racing Championship organised by the BRSCC. For some this was a rerun of events of 20 years ago when Formula Junior and 500’s raced together at the Monoposto Racing Club meetings of 1989 and 1990. The entry list was amongst the most interesting and varied of the season. We were delighted to see the familiar faces of Peter Kumlin, Rickard With, Per Hageman and Olle Linde who had made the very long journey from Sweden and brought with them the line up of two Effyhs and two Coopers neatly presented in the paddock.

Everyone was particularly delighted and pleasantly surprised to welcome Philippe Giron in the Cooper-Triumph that he imported from the States last year. Philippe had suffered much leg-pulling earlier in the year that he wouldn’t get the car out but, with much late night work and help from Simon Frost he finally got the car going before the end of the year. Roy Hunt made the long trip from Cheshire and was one of those present who had been at the meetings of 20 years earlier, though he was no doubt hoping for a better outcome this time as the Jason he owned then had returned home a rather different shape than it had started out. We were also delighted to once again welcome local man John Potts with everyone’s favourite car, the Monaco, John Chisholm in the Arnott whilst Mark Palmer earned the biggest number of air miles having been in Moscow the day before the meeting. The rest of the entry was made up of the usual suspects….. With 20 points at stake over the two races, some were heard doing complicated points calculations even before a wheel was turned!

Mike Fowler gets in the zone. Photo Darren Sellings.


Many owners opted to arrive on the Friday night but with a 10.00 am signing on time for the Saturday morning it should have been possible to arrive that morning with time to spare. Unfortunately the whole weekend seemed to run a little ahead of schedule and there was a certain amount of panic when we were called for practice around half an hour early. Mark Palmer was at that time still in scrutineering with body panels removed while Philippe had not long arrived with the Cooper. With help, Mark was able to get out for five minutes of practice but for Philippe the fun was just beginning and a variety of problems and little time meant that he missed practice. Roy Hunt too had problems getting the Martin going despite it running perfectly at Oulton and once started, it misfired through practice.

For most, qualifying was the first opportunity to get to grips with this small, twisty and steep circuit. There had been considerable debate and bluffing over sprocket choice but the circuit turned out to be more demanding than it might have seemed when first viewed from the paddock and many drivers reported noticing how physical the driving was. Nigel Ashman managed to get to grips with the circuit reasonably quickly putting in a 51.01 with Gordon following and Mike Fowler, Darrell Woods, Nigel Challis and Roy Hunt close behind. George Shackleton (at only his third meeting) did particularly well to put himself seventh and in the middle of some more experienced drivers. JB Jones and Per Hageman came in early, while poor Olle Linde managed only one lap.

On returning to the Paddock Mike Fowler was concerned to find he had no compression but hoped that this would return as the engine cooled. Nigel Challis took up negotiations with the organisers on behalf of Philippe and they were extremely helpful in allowing him a slot to complete his three laps before the first race…all he had to do now was to get the car running! With the first race due to start around 4.00 pm there was time for considerable fettling and the 500 pit crew once again swung into action with many heads disappearing into and under Philippe’s car.

Race 1

When the first race was called Mike Fowler confirmed his worst fears when his otherwise super-reliable engine failed to start and despite giving the car a thorough check over after practice Roy too could not start due to magneto problems. Nigel Challis noticed one of his valve springs was broken and one was immediately stripped from Mike's engine to replace it. The rest gathered on the hill and from this vantage point were able to watch the marshals valiantly helping Philippe to do his three laps. A stubborn clutch and a little inexperience of motorbike gear boxes meant that things clearly weren’t going to plan and a land rover was brought in to help. Although in the paddock only a moment earlier Mike Fowler somehow now appeared on the track and jumped in the car to get it going to assist Philippe who, to add to his troubles, had been clouted on the head by a shackle in the tow rope! Eventually the Triumph was running to great cheers and applause from the watchers on the hill and Philippe was able to drive round and complete the necessary familiarisation.

The rest of the cars were called down to do the green flag lap and Philippe tucked on the back of the pack. The race was to be a standing start with Formula 1 style lights but soon after starting we were red flagged at North Bend because Philippe had not been able to get going due to his clutch. Sadly the Cooper had to be pushed away and the cars assembled again at the lights. Second time around, Nigel Ashman was quickly away but there was a frantic battle behind with Gordon Russell making a slow start allowing Darrell Woods to jump up to second place with Nigel Challis behind him. The excitement of being second got the better of Darrell who ran wide on the second lap at the North bend allowing Gordon and Nigel to squeeze through. These four were to stay in this order for the rest of the race with Nigel Ashman pulling away from Gordon who in turn pulled away from Nigel Challis. Darrell had other ideas and drove one of his best races ever; never letting Nigel Challis relax and relentlessly looking for chances to pass, at the flag half a second separated them.

Darrel Woods leads Nigel Challis, Gordon Russell and JB Jones. Photo Kitty Chisholm

JB Jones has suffered more than his fair share of breakdowns and set backs and his perseverance has been something marvellous, and sometimes bewildering. It has been a real pleasure through this year to see the Cousy not only reliable but actually going quickly and we were treated to more of this at Lydden. JB benefited from Roy being missing from the grid and was encouraged by the marshals (and entirely against his wishes) to move up from his qualifying position of eighth to the third row. As the race started Mike Gilbert made a fast start from behind but JB managed to get up to fifth and stay there for the entire race, never quite able to get in the battle ahead but nevertheless achieving his aim of “getting a sniff of the podium” and beating all the JAPs too!

George Shackleton’s race was also particularly noteworthy. Obviously the car is excellent and was prepared to perfection by the previous owner (who was that? - Ed) but George has taken to 500 racing almost effortlessly and is driving the car as though he has been doing so for years. More track time and some new tyres will doubtless see him getting closer to the podium next year. George settled in behind JB Jones and Martin Sheppard for seven laps before slipping past Martin down Hairy Hill to take and hold sixth place.

Rickard With (Effyh) leads Paul Hewes (Cooper) Photo Kitty Chisholm.

Close behind Martin Sheppard, were Per Hageman, Mike Gilbert, John Chisholm and Mark Palmer. Whilst Paul Hewes enjoyed a race long battle in his yellow Cooper with the Effyh of Rickard With and Olle Linde and John Potts brought up the rear. As a result of the re-start, the race time was cut to 17 minutes and by the end we had lost only one car with Peter Kumlin having to retire the Effyh with a broken gear lever….a remarkable degree of reliability.

Almost as soon as we got back to the paddock we were treated to a full evening of culinary delights starting with a barrel of beer (thanks to Nigel Challis) and a delicious cream tea (thanks to Kerry Anderson). Next followed a marvellous selection of Aquavit and herrings kindly provided by our Swedish friends who even sang us a traditional Swedish drinking song. We then moved seamlessly into main event, a barbeque organised and cooked by Nigel Challis and Martin Sheppard as well as a whole host of others who had spent the afternoon preparing everything.

The Formula Junior drivers joined us for what turned out to be an excellent meal of homemade tomato soup (by Nigel), steak, sausages, (provided by Simon Frost) followed by fruit salad, cheeses and brownies…wonderful! Light rain at around 10.00 pm probably saved a few sore heads the next day although the Chairman’s appearance in his “village people” leather jerkin sent even the most determined on their way.

Race 1 Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Class Time Laps Best

Fastest Lap: Nigel Ashman - Cooper Mk XI - 51.997

DNF: Peter Kumlin - Effyh


Our thanks to Nigel Ashman for the report with support from Duncan Rabagliati, Sally Russell, John Furlong, Darrell Woods and Philippe Giron. Kitty Chisholm, Darren Sellings and Kerry Anderson for the photos and the crew for catering and entertainment.

1 Nigel Ashman Cooper Mk XI C 17:36 20 51.997
2 Gordon Russell Cooper Mk VIII C 17:56 20 53.102
3 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII C 18:18 20 53.562
4 Darrell Woods Cooper Mk VIII C 18:19 20 53.575
5 JB Jones Cousy C 17:37 19 54.303
6 George Shackleton Cooper Mk VI B 17:45 19 54.475
7 Martin Sheppard Cooper Mk XII C 17:54 19 54.781
8 Per Hageman Cooper Mk XII C 18:03 19 55.320
9 Mike Gilbert Cooper Mk IX C 18:21 19 55.887
10 John Chisholm Arnott B 18:23 19 56.745
11 Mark Palmer Wishart Mk II C 18:29 19 56.935
12 Rickard With Effyh A 18:06 18 58.556
13 Paul Hewes Cooper Mk XII C 18:07 18 57.787
14 Olle Linde Cooper Mk X C 18:28 18 59.339
15 John Potts Monaco A 17:49 15 1:07.654

Sunday dawned bright and dry without the wind that had sand blasted everyone and everything the day before. With no racing until lunchtime and with the second 500 race not due until later in the afternoon most drivers couldn’t resist some fiddling. Roy hunt was loaned a spare Magneto and set about fitting it with help from Simon and Martin. Mike Fowler was loaned an engine by Mark Palmer and was up early to remove his and fit the replacement. Work also resumed on Philippe’s car with the petrol pump being dismantled and cleaned and the clutch being fitted with a new cable and adjusted to get the best out of it. John Furlong, Nigel Challis, and JB Jones all helped and eventually Philippe was able to do some laps of the paddock and gain a little more familiarity with the car prior to Race 2.

Race 2

Drivers gathered once again on the hill and at around 4.00 pm were called down to the track for the green flag lap. Sunday’s grid was based on the results of the first race and so Mike Fowler and Roy Hunt both had to start from the back. With Class B not fully decided but very much in Mike's favour, it was all or nothing for Roy, nothing less than a class win would do.

Paul Hewes could not attend on Sunday but everyone else took the start and got away smoothly although Philippe was still on his green flag lap having not quite kept up with the rest. This time though the Cooper-Triumph was, well, a triumph….that was up until lap 12 when a misfire worsened to the point that the car rolled to a halt at the Devil's Elbow and Phil became a spectator. Once stationary Philippe was concerned his engine would ignite but thankfully it settled on simmering and smoking gently for a while.

Nigel Ashman made another clean start and led comfortably to the end, to allow him to drop another result and confirm a final score of 70 points. Gordon was consistent too and consequently had to spend the first couple of laps chasing Darrel and Nigel to regain his 2nd place! Seven more points would be enough to pass Neil Hodges and take second overall in class C. Darrell had made another great start, getting the better of Nigel Challis this time and holding on to second place for two laps until Gordon moved back to pass him. That should have been the end of the story but on the fourth lap, approaching the Devil's Elbow, Darrell felt his steering wheel come loose and realised it was detached and he couldn’t steer! He rather skilfully managed to somehow park the car, without damage and he too was forced to spectate.

Darrel parks for the day. Photo Kitty Chisholm.

With Darrell out, Nigel Challis was promoted to third but was not to have an easy time of it. First contestant was JB Jones who managed to close the gap when the pair approached back markers and hounded Nigel for several laps. The two were level on a couple of occasions and at one point they travelled down the start/finish straight side by side and split to pass Rickard With on either side crossing the line with only one hundredth of a second between them. To achieve this performance, the Cousy was operating way outside its design tolerances and it was perhaps therefore inevitable that something was going to go horribly wrong at some point. So it was then that on lap 14 the exhaust pipe came loose and started to make a lot of noise but JB managed to continue until Lap 17 when the engine finally expired, the spark plug having unscrewed itself and whilst still attached to the HT lead had fallen down near the carb and ignited the fuel…thankfully it was “only a small fire” !

Nigel Challis might have hoped for an easier time following JB’s retirement but it was not to be as George Shackleton moved up to continue the assault. Sadly though, George, like many of us before him, became mesmerised in awe by the Challis racing lines and could not snap out of it long enough to get by. George kept up the pressure though to finish fifth, one place better than his excellent result the day before.

Mike Fowler more than made up for having missed the first race by moving swiftly up to finish a remarkable third overall. Mike was tenth at the end of the first lap, then took a place almost every lap to be third before half distance and with the class win and championship secured he held position to the end.

Keep your foot hard down! Photo Kitty Chisholm

Like Mike, Roy Hunt had started at the back and also moved through the field steadily dicing with Mike on the way until his composure ran out with a trip into the gravel and a stall at Paddock. Roy managed to push the car onto the track, jump in and get himself going again while cars passed him on either side but unfortunately another spin later on put paid to his reaching the front and Roy had to settle for tenth at the finish and a visit to the Clerk of the Course to discuss his excursions….Lydden proving to be as memorable as it had been 20 years earlier.

Per Hageman had a good race finishing in sixth and first of the visitors. Per must have eyes in the back of his head or some kind of Jedi skills because he was amongst the most switched on of the whole field to faster cars approaching to pass. John Chisholm was getting faster all the time and followed Per home ahead of Peter Kumlin in his Effyh. Martin Sheppard was going well and his lap times suggest he would have finished behind Per but he was to suffer magneto failure at North Bend. Mark Palmer was the final retirement when he lost his engine sprocket with all our Swedish visitors finishing and John Potts completing his second class A win in the Monaco.

John Chisholm's Arnott. Photo Kerry Anderson.

Race 2 Classified Finishers




Class Time Laps Best Fastest Lap: Nigel Ashman - Cooper Mk XI 51.972

DNF: John Jones - Cousy, Mark Palmer - Wishart, Philippe Giron - Cooper, Martin Sheppard - Cooper Mk XII, Darrell Woods - Cooper Mk VIII

Final Championship Standings


Our thanks to the BRSCC

1 Nigel Ashman Cooper Mk XI C 20:18 23 51.972
2 Gordon Russell Cooper Mk VIII C 20:37 23 52.915
3 Mike Fowler Cooper Mk V B 20:55 23 53.272
4 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII C 21:06 23 54.134
5 George Shackleton Cooper Mk VI B 21:08 23 53.659
6 Per Hageman Cooper Mk XII C 20:49 22 54.920
7 John Chisholm Arnott B 21:08 22 56.407
8 Peter Kumlin Effyh A 20:19 21 56.872
9 Mike Gilbert Cooper Mk IX C 20:31 21 57.283
10 Roy Hunt Martin B 20:49 21 53.466
11 Olle Linde Cooper Mk X C 21:03 21 57.572
12 Rickard With Effyh A 20:18 20 58.144
13 John Potts Monaco A 20:40 18 1:05.219

Nigel Ashman and Martin Sheppard. Photo Kitty Chisholm.

As the weekend drew to a close, we were treated to the Challis and Russell show as they performed their latest routines for the assembled crowd whilst at the same time handing out prizes for the aggregate of the two races. Nigel Ashman was first overall with Gordon, second and Nigel Challis completing the podium and it all turned very “Laurel and Hardy” when each had to present to the other. Other prizes were presented to our Swedish friends, to Philippe for his debut and for John Potts for being the most gentlemanly of all Gentleman Drivers. Finally we all gathered for a group photo before packing up and drifting away….roll on 2010 !

End of term photo. Kitty Chisholm