Shelsley 100 0805

Shelsley Walsh Centenary 20/21st August 2005

The Shelsley Walsh centenary celebration weekend was a tremendous success with sunshine, a large crowd and some great competition. Cars ranged from Edwardian through to the vary latest Goulds with an Auto-Union, a BRM and almost every ERA ever built. 500s were represented by Jan Nycz in his Staride and James Holland in the Bob Gerard Cooper Mk VIII. We also had a number of V twin Coopers including Terry Wright on tour from Australia with the Walton.

A personal account of the Shelsley Walsh centenary by Terry Wright, editor of Loose Fillings:

Shelsley Walsh Centenary was trying, terrifying and ultimately triumphant with a class win (racing cars post-war to 1960) and a personal best time of 37.12 seconds. We rolled up at Shelsley early afternoon on Thursday to find that with 300 cars competing over the weekend we were on the grass and not in one of the famous sheds. A lot of rain was forecast. A trip to Kidderminster to buy a "gazebo" set us back quite a few hours but by nightfall we had had a few beers in the paddock bar with old friends and everything was fine.

The state of play with the car was that new pistons and re-bored barrels had been fitted just before leaving Sydney and apart from a few scoots up and down the road and an abortive dyno run it had had no testing at all. A couple of days after collecting the car from Tilbury I had about 10 laps running in at the Curborough sprint track but it remained untested under anything like full power. Ignition and carburetion settings were only approximate and I remained quite nervous about how it would perform under load at Shelsley.

Friday provided two practice runs for the Sunday entry and in both of these there were serious misfires at higher rpm under load. We swapped batteries, and substituted the gravity header tank for the pumped set-up in case the pump was not up to delivering the fuel needed. The SU slide was a bit "sticky" and this was polished a little and the jet realigned with the needle. We thought it possible the slide might be sticking in operation. Saturday was a British Championship meeting with about 20 of the Sunday Centenary meeting cars also running. There was one practice run and two timed runs. In  practice the Cooper seemed worse with more misfiring and the rear head and exhaust pipe very hot at the end of the run.

The conclusions were to expand the valve pocket in the piston, run #9 plugs, fit the only spare needle which was a little richer, revert to the pump (it was suggested the little gravity tank didn't provide enough head), use pure methanol and only the new 10 mm plug holes. I had a lot of help to get it all together and finished about 9.00 pm on Saturday, obviously without any more runs. The Sunday meeting had one practice and two competition runs. In practice I got away cleanly but one of the blower pipes blew off. I fixed that on the spot and they gave me another run but near the end of this another pipe blew off. There was still an erratic intermittent misfire but Phil Spencer realised I was running pump and ignition off one battery which he said was an absolute "no" because of interference. We rewired and fitted two independent batteries. The first run then went cleanly to the end. But as I crossed the line I relaxed my body and arms - and the steering column came away from the rack! Fortunately the car kept straight until the gradient washed off most of the speed and I was able to brake into a run-off area. The clamp bolt at the spline on the rack, one of the few that had not been replaced, was found to be undersize and even a new nut stripped when tightened. I was reminded this is a standard Cooper "worry" and a common precaution is to fit a hose clamp to the column just below the top mount. I was reminded Max Fisher had warned about it in Loose Fillings.

The time for this first run was 38.24 which put me just in the lead of the class. On the last run I wrung its neck and did some unpretty driving for a 37.12 (my best in the other car was 37.58 ). The meeting was fabulous and the weather fine but it was very hard work and you could hardly move in the paddock. I guess there were 20,000 people there - it took two hours to get in at the peak.

Sunday Centenary Class 6B Racing Cars 1945-60
Pos Name Car Time
1 Terry Wright Walton Cooper 1,100cc 37.12
2 Steve Lawrence Cooper JAP Mk VIII 37.50
3 Roger Willoughby Cooper JAP Mk VI 38.37
4 David White Cooper Bristol Mk II 39.16
5 Mike Lawrence Cooper JAP Mk X 40.95
6 James Holland Cooper JAP Mk VIII 41.35
7 Jan Nycz Staride JAP 41.46
8 David Docherty Cooper JAP Mk IX 44.29
9 Julia De Baldanza Maserati A6GCM 52.27
Saturday 500 Owners Association Hill Climb Championship



1 Steve Lawrence Cooper JAP Mk VIII
2 Nigel Challis Cooper Norton Mk VIII
3 Mike Lawrence Cooper JAP Mk X
4 Jan Nycz Staride JAP
5 Humphrey Collis JLR Triumph