Croft Nostalgia Weekend – 4 August 2013

Croft Nostalgia Weekend 2013 Race Report

Practice/Qualification

So here we are in the North of Yorkshire at Croft. It’s a pretty breezy day but when the sun comes through the clouds it’s quite warm.  And at least it is staying dry. The touring cars go out to practice and there are 29 of them. It is a terrific entry and in some ways practice almost looks like the race. Apparently setting the pace (and he was going very quick) in his Lotus Cortina was Neil Brown but even he would admit that a 1:23 is beyond any historic touring car. On paper, it has put him on pole although no one believes it. Later, the timekeepers agreed that Mark Jones would take the pole and Neil was demoted to second. So Mark is on pole on a 1:41 with Neil alongside.  Mark has come out for a rare outing and really should come out with us more. Behind them all practice long was Richard Dutton, Warren Briggs, both in Mustangs, who tussled and in the end it was Richard Dutton who got third place on the grid with a low 1:43 with Warren who was on a mid 1:43 as well showing how close things were as he was back in 6th place.  Behind Richard Dutton came Tim Davies in his Lotus Cortina looking like the handling was improved since Brands. In 5th place was Jimmy Fuller who had been testing here as had Tim Davies and some others as well and had a cracking run in his Alfa pipping Warren’s Mustang by 1000th of a second. Into 7th came Roy Stephenson’s Mustang.  Roy is somewhat of a local ace on a 1:44.  In 8th place came Joe Gomm who frankly didn’t look that comfortable in his BMW 1800 Ti out there on a 1:45.  In 9th place Bob Bullen putting in a good performance in his Anglia 105E also on a 1:45 and in 10th place John Avill who is going really well at the moment in his Lotus Cortina on a 1:46.

Report by Peter Hore

 Race 1

Neil Brown led the pack away from pole position and through the chicane on the first lap Neil led from Tim Davies and Mark Jones, the three Lotus Cortinas in line astern. By the end of the first lap Richard Dutton had managed to get past Tim Davies and this was how it remained until the third lap when Mark pulled into the pits with ignition problems. Neil, Richard and Tim held those places until the end but with only a couple of seconds between them and an increasingly slippery track surface had the cars sliding spectacularly through the final hairpin and on to the pit straight. Behind the leading three the positions changed constantly between Warren Briggs, Bob Bullen, Jimmy Fuller, Joe Gomm and Croft regular Roy Stephenson.  There were times that Joe and Jimmy were side by side down the pits straight and into the first corner but after a half a dozen or so laps Joe pulled off into the pits with gearbox problems. Roy Stephenson eventually made fourth his own and even managed to eke out a gap to the evenly matched Briggs, Bullen (who’s Anglia engine sounded particularly crisp) and Fuller. Further back the Minis of Roger Godfrey and Pete Morgan changed positions regularly with Roger finally taking the class honours. Tom Andrew in the Alfa mixed it with them and in the end split the two taking the place at the hairpin just before the finish. Andy Harrison in the Cooper S that he is going to share with celebrity chef James Martin was next up. John Pugsley who started towards the back of the grid after having problems in practice pulled up to twelfth mixing it with John Avill’s Lotus Cortina and Steve Platt’s Singer Chamois followed by the Lotus Cortina’s of Ross Hyatt and Nigel Cox - this group of five cars being extremely close throughout the race. Barry Long’s immaculate yellow green Mini was next up in front of Chris Glaister’s Anglia 100E. These two had been split by Dan Wray and Jim Clark’s Lotus Cortinas before they both dropped out with various problems. Next up were Colin Flynn’s Mini and Dave Cabena’s Alfa having a race long battle at the back of the field and were followed home by the Mk 1 Jaguar of Phil Bennett and John Barber’s lovely Fiat Abarth. Both Colin and Ian Gunton’s Imps expired before the end of the race though Colin’s car with the new 5 bearing block would be able to start the second race.

Report by Peter Wray

 Race 2

26 of the cars that started race 1 were fit to resume battle in Race 2, the casualties being Ian Gunton’s Imp and the Mk 1 Jaguar of Phil Bennett. John Freeman was seen beavering away under the bonnet of Warren Briggs’ Mustang between the races and it obviously paid dividends as he moved steadily past those in front from the off and took the lead from the squabbling Neil Brown and Richard Dutton on lap 10. Richard’s Mustang led the first 4 laps before Neil’s Cortina went through to lead a lap only to cede the place back to Richard with Warren moving through also. This was great stuff to watch from the pit wall and I’m sure Croft’s large crowd of spectators was well entertained by these cars. Richard’s race was hampered in the closing laps by a gearlever that finally broke away and he dropped to sixth place on the last couple of laps.  Keeping a watching brief in fourth throughout was Tim Davies’ class B winning Lotus Cortina followed by Roy Stephenson’s Mustang and Mark Jones’ Lotus Cortina which climbed rapidly through the field following the race 1 problem and sporting a points and condenser distributor following the failure of the electronic unit it usually wears. Bob Bullen and Jimmy Fuller resumed where they left off in race 1 with the Alfa just in front for the first four laps but once Mark Jones came past in his charge up the field Jimmy dropped back and only just held off Tom Andrew’s Appendix K class Alfa at the flag. The Minis of Pete Morgan and Roger Godfrey also continued their race 1 duel with Pete’s red version taking the class this time and the cars were split by John Avill’s ex-Neil Brown Cortina. John Pugsley had a good scrap with the Lotus Cortinas of Ross Hyett and Dan Wray, the Anglia’s handling not being to John’s liking with a well planted rear but a wayward front end. Dan swept by Ross Hyett up to the chicane then took John’s Anglia at Tower on the next lap with Ross following through also, but this was only to last for a couple of laps before the Cortina started to overheat and Dan dropped back and was also passed by Steve Platts’ class E winning Imp. Steve spun at Clervaux on the first lap and spent the rest of the race catching up with class rivals Chris Glaister in Ed’s lovely 100E Anglia and Colin Gunton’s Imp. Dave Cabena‘s Alfa had Jim Clark’s Cortina to play with this time (the Lotus just holding on) but his playmate from race 1, Colin Flynn, didn’t quite have the pace to hold on this time and the Mini and John Barber’s Fiat completed the finishers.

Joe Gomm retired the BMW after 6 laps (he thought the engine tightened up a bit so he pulled off) and Colin Gunton’s Imp also bagged a brace of non-finishes. Barry Long’s immaculate Mini Cooper ‘S’ charged the banking somewhere round the back on lap 3 and James Martin in the Mini he shared with Andy Harrison overcooked (sorry!) things also on lap 3 with a coming together with Nigel Cox’s Cortina as he charged up from the back after qualifying out of session due to TV commitments. Although this meeting will never quite match the Goodwood Revival meeting for the overall quality of competing cars it makes for a really enjoyable experience and the ‘Nostalgia’ theme is well embraced by the racing fraternity and those providing classic cars, militaria and entertainment to give the large crowd real value for money and the HSCC and Croft circuit management should be applauded for this venture. Long may it continue.

Report by Peter Wray

 We were there!

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