Mallory Park MSCC Results 300706

Mallory Park 30th July 2006

In a break with tradition, the Summer meeting at Mallory Park would be with the Morgan Sports Car Club. Despite some choosing a 750 Trophy meeting at Lydden Hill, others having chosen to race with the Juniors at the VSCC Mallory meeting the week before, and the late loss of Paul Hewes due to illness and James Holland (touch of bent car at Prescott) a reasonable turnout of ten 500s would race with a half dozen Morgan three-wheelers. With the July heat wave finally broken, a very pleasant Sunday morning greeted the competitors. In addition to the usual suspects, there were three appearances of note. Martin Sheppard turned out for the first time this year. His Cooper Mk XII has had a makeover, now featuring a more robust roll hoop. The car has also received a new paint job featuring the Cooper ‘works colours of dark blue with white stripes (of no historical significance, only to match his Formula Junior). After a frustrating and expensive 2005, Martin was hoping for more luck and a more reliable Norton. Duncan Rabagliati brought out the Brian Heyward Comet, which has undergoing a sympathetic restoration by Tony Steele, who would also drive.

 The final appearance was the newcomer Malcolm Bell with a Cooper Mk X JAP. This was Malcolm’s first competitive event of any kind, and he (and the entire tribe of Bells) would appreciate the typical warm and helpful welcome from the 500 paddock. The car is suspected of being an ex-Michael Christie hillclimb chassis and appears to be a tidy, well-prepared car, but for a silencer made from some new-fangled plastic!

With the James Culver absent, hopes were for a close group at the front, and so it turned out. Roy Hunt cruised around to set fastest 500 time with a handy low-61 second lap. Second fastest, and only a few tenths back, was a most impressive Nigel Ashman in his Cooper Mk VI – particularly given that his session was curtailed by a misfire. Neil Hodges was just three hundredths off Nigel, while Mike Fowler and Geoff Gartside were also within a second of Nigel. Gordon Russell (Mackson) was another second back, giving us six cars covered by just over two seconds.

Tony Steele set a respectable time of 67 seconds, all things considered, but the wire wheels were still slightly buckled. More of a problem was that the gearbox refused to stay in fourth, rather critical at Mallory, and Tony had to drive one-handed around almost the entire lap. A strip down was not possible, so Tony was resigned to another 15 minutes of the same in the race.

Malcolm Bell's Mk X

Nigel Challis spent practice learning the circuit and set a similar time to Tony. Bringing up the rear were Malcolm, losing his engine sprocket after three laps, and Martin Sheppard, whose 500 luck clearly hasn’t improved, pulling off at Gerards a couple of laps later with a snapped secondary chain.

Practice had suggested that four of the Morgans disappear up the road, and three at least duly did. Roy was the first 500 into Gerards first time, chased by Mike Fowler, the Super Aero of Duncan Wood, Neil Hodges, Nigel Ashman and Geoff Gartside. The rest followed in close formation, with the slow-starting Martin and Malcolm a couple of seconds in arrears.

Exiting the hairpin for the second time Mike was a touch to keen on the accelerator, and pirouetted to face the field. He was quickly back on his way between Geoff and Nigel Challis. At the head of the class, Roy had his hands full of the Morgan of Duncan Wood, with Neil and Nigel Ashman three seconds back. Nigel, however, would get no further, retiring on the third lap with a misfire. Meanwhile , at the back, both Martin and Malcolm seemed to be in trouble with misfires. Martin’s magneto was expiring, and he would park up on the fourth lap at exactly the same spot as in practice, utterly frustrated with the vagaries of the one-lung motors. Malcolm had curious and inconsistent fuel feed problems, and was trying all sorts of tricks entice more fuel to the carbs – on one lap we had the odd sight of him tugging on the fuel pump strap past the pits. He teased the car around until the eighth lap before accepting defeat.

Roy was still leading and battling with the Morgan who with the extra cylinder had the greater speed down the straights – for once a Norton rider knows what it’s like for the JAPs! Neil was driving superbly, and beginning to catch the pair, despite less horsepower still. Some seven seconds in arrears was another choice battle. A recovering Mike was attacking Geoff (driving well) and another Morgan of Alistair Rew. Mike found a way past both by the fourth lap, but Geoff could not quite break the Morgan and would face a lengthy, but scrupulously fair fight, regularly trading positions. This scrap was allowing Gordon to catch them, but a moment cost him several seconds that would later prove significant. Nigel Challis was a further six seconds back and Tony a similar distance behind him.

On lap 6, Neil finally made caught Roy and Duncan, and went straight on the attack. With the Morgan sneaking ahead, his focus was solely on the Martin and he pushed his Cooper as hard as we have ever seen. The cars were equal from the hairpin back past the pits, and Neil would try repeatedly to make a move into Gerards, one occasion going all the way around the outside and coming out just a nose ahead. But Roy’s Norton had the edge on the run back along Stebbe Straight and would find a car length by the Esses. Now clear of traffic, Mike was speeding up, and smelt blood as the cars ahead held each other up. By lap nine he had the gap down to a couple of seconds, causing Neil’s crew to make some (masterful (what? -Ed)) signals to watch his mirrors (some hope...- Ed). Tenth time through the hairpin, he was just a touch too presumptive with the right foot and the yellow and blue Cooper spun around. Quickly on his way, still ahead of Geoff, the car now refused to change gears, and after one more lap Neil pulled off just before the line.

Don Turner enjoys an ice cream with the author.

Mike, slightly delayed in avoiding Neil, set about recovering the now four second gap. Roy, however, had seen Neil spinning, but had not noticed the pit signals, and eased off for the victory. So it was something of a surprise to cross the line for the thirteenth time with the silver Mk V appearing on his right flank. What followed was another three fine laps that captivated the spectators as the pair traded positions repeatedly. Each time, Roy would appear just ahead around the Devil’s Elbow, but on the sixteenth and final lap, Mike made a bold lunge into the hairpin and looked to have stolen the win. Roy didn’t give up, and as they came through the Elbow he carried a touch more speed. In an even closer finish than last October’s races, Roy took the class win by just forty six thousandths of a second.

Some way back, Geoff Gartside brought his Cooper in for third in class. Though no longer held up by Alistair Rew’s Morgan, which had retired after ten laps, Geoff could not quite keep pace with Mike. He was still looking at a strong finish, but a couple of laps from the flag, he developed a serious misfire. Gordon was catching rapidly, but just before he made contact for a last lap move, overall winner Bill Tuer came past to lap them both, and securing third for Geoff. Rounding out the finishers were Nigel Challis (only a few seconds behind Gordon, but classified another lap down), and Tony Steele after a decent drive considering his handicapped gearbox and a slight misfire.

Roy receives his laurels, left

Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Time Laps Best Fastest lap: Roy Hunt 1:01.223

DNF: Neil Hodges - Cooper Mk VIII, Malcolm Bell - Cooper Mk X, Martin Sheppard - Cooper Mk XII, Nigel Ashman - Cooper Mk VI

Our thanks to the Morgan Sports Car Club.

Championship Positions

Race report by Richard Hodges

1 Roy Hunt Martin 16:49 16 1:01.223
2 Mike Fowler Cooper Mk V 16:49 16 1:01.758
3 Geoff Gartside Cooper Mk VIII 16:15 15 1:03.341
4 Gordon Russell Mackson 16:17 15 1:03.793
5 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII 15:59 14 1:06.450
6 Tony Steele Comet 16:21 14 1:07.958

Gentleman Driver's Award

Pos Name Car

Gentleman Driver's Award standings 



1 Mike Fowler Cooper Mk V
2 Gordon Russell Mackson
3 Roy Hunt Martin
4 Geoff Gartside Cooper Mk VIII
5 Tony Steele Comet
6 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII

The usual pre-race huddles.