The CSCC Special Saloons + Modsports series
9 am on a beautiful Saturday morning and the cars are ready to rumble for qualifying. The David Beatty Aston , Andy Southcott Midget and James Plant Healey are about to set off.
For the 4th season running the CSCC enjoyed the UKs fastest race circuit at Thruxton for what was the series` finale . Once again we were treated to beautiful weather though not so good for those racing on the sunday but the change to a 2-race format for the series meant just a single but action packed day this time.
For those of a V8 persuation we had TEN such engined cars on the entry so plenty of aural delight was on hand. There were 16 CSCC cars and joined by 5 Bernie`s V8s + GTs through invitation. The consensus at the end was that the mix had work well and it was a shame more cars from Bernie`s had joined the fun.
The best supported class was again Class A with 4 turbo cars for the Morris Brothers ( Peugeot ) , Brands race-winner Clive Anderson ( BMW ) , John Cockerton ( Porsche 935 ) and in his 3rd race Ben Gough in the Scimitar-Nissan. The rest were big bangers over 6-litres for David Beatty ( Aston Martin ) and James Plant in the John Plant-built Healey-Chevy that was wisely withdrawn at Brands and now sorted for its full race debut.
The Peugeot would set class pole in 3rd and survived a scare when Danny Morris rotated the car coming out of the chicane whilst pushing perhaps a bit too hard.
Class B for cars 2000 to 5000 had both pre-race favourites with 75-year old Ian Hall ( Darrian V8 ) and Andy Southcott in the nimble Midget-Vauxhall 2.3 that both diced so well the previous year here. Also both drivers were on 11 series wins apiece at the top of the listings. They were joined by Martin Reynolds who had raced his Escort at Brands but switched to his Sebring Healey replica V8 for this one making 2 of the iconic sports car shapes present plus Ian Wilson was back from his Brands off in his wedge TVR . Also as a one-off was the Datsun 240z of Dean Halsey who usually races in the swinging 60s but was running in his new engine in this shorter race event. Sure enough Hall and Southcott placed 1 and 2 on the timesheets in that order both over 2 seconds ahead of 3rd.
Class C had Paul Sibley ( himself with 9 series wins ) in the Elan and Jim Steward in a smart but fairly standard TR7 V8. Sibley had further starter motor problems and didnt record a lap so would hope to start bck in 21st. Thomas Carey missing this round.
Class D had 3 series stalwarts in Neil Duke ( Anglia ) ,Tim Cairns ( Midget ) and Jeremy Burgoyne ( Escort ). The Sonny Howard-built Anglia set an excellent 5th and the Cairns car 6th which was suprising for such a 'power' circuit.
The 5 Bernie`s cars were effectivley in their own class and should be pointed out were all on road tyres though Marcus Bicknell set 4th fastest in the 2001 ASCAR Ford Fusion tuned to 548 bhp. Simoen Chodosh in the family Corvette C1 ,Kenneth Angell ( BMW E36 ) ,Andy Lambert + Cheng Lim ( RAM Cobra ) and the wonderful Plymouth 'Cuda Dan Gurney tribute car of Matt Snowball which raced with the CSCC at Brands.
The cars were the first out of the weekend at 9 on saturday morning and whilst some cars didnt miss a beat others were in trouble already. Sibley as mentioned failed to get out. Clive Anderson brought the BMW in very hot which turned out to be a cylinder problem so despite setting 7th the team missed race 1 whilst the problem was fully assessed. The Porsche 935 of John Cockerton has been described a few times as 'flame spitting' but also had got so hot it pitted and twice sent up a flash of flame from presumably unburnt fuel on hot exhausts. The Wilson TVR wasnt happy either and came in after 3 laps with only 5 of 6 cylinders firing. The BMW of Ken Angell ,the Datsun and the Gough Scimitar all had terminal problems and were withdrawn ,the latter with a blown head gasket . David Beatty was another struggling ,a repeat of low fuel pessure .
By Race 1 the crowd were basking in the hot early autumn sunshine as 17 cars set-off for the first race of the weekend. As expected Hall and Southcott not only blasted off out front but disappeared from the rest of the field as if on another level. Hall more or less lead throughout with a lead of between 3 to 10 car lengths depending where on the track they were. The pace was so relentless the pair had a 50-second advantage on 3rd place by lap 8. Through the chicane you could see from the body language of both cars they were on the limit. Carving through the back markers until on lap 9 something gave way on the Midget and Southcott pulled off safely onto the grass before the Campbell turn. Hall was able to ease off well out in front and stroke the big car home to what was his 200th career win and 12th series win.
Behind Paul Sibley had carved his way passed everyone else from the back of the grid now his Elan was fully operational and passed Bicknall for 3rd on lap 4 easing away and of course with the demise of Southcott inherited 2nd and on to win his class. Bicknall took 3rd and was the last car on the lead lap. Class D had its usual close tussle with Neil Duke holding off Tim Cairns for 4th and 5th.
Class A came next with John Cockerton`s Porsche running well in 6th to win the class by 12 seconds from Ricky Parker-Morris ( Peugeot ) who had a brief early race pit stop and then charged back up the field.
The other good dice was the 3-man midfield tussle between the Plant Healey ,Chodosh 'Vette and the Reynolds Healey with all 24 cylinders between them sounding great. The order kept more or less that way to the finish but they were very evenly matched and a great return to Modsport racing for the Healey 3000 ,even if these are interpritations of that iconic British sports car. Burgoyne ,Lim ,Snowball and Seward rounded out the runners with the Beatty Aston not classified after on going fuel pressure issues.
Hall`s fastest race lap of 1m 18.959 wasnt quite enough to improve on his own record lap from 2017 when 1m 18.205 was set.
The sun was just fading by half 5's Race 2 which had Southcott ,Wilson ( who desperatly needed an ECU to fix the cylinder issue ) ,Seward and suprisingly Duke all withdrawn .The Anglia having a clutch problem in whats been otherwise a very reliable 3 years racing.
Clive Anderson though was back after deciding to continue at reduced race speeds as he was keen to learn the track and come back stronger all round next year in the immaculate BMW.
14 cars remained and on the front row was Paul Sibley and Marcus Bicknell with race winner Hall serving his 'winners penalty' in 11th. Sibley lead Danny Morris in the Peugeot and Bicknell until Hall caught and passed each one ,Morris let him by into 2nd at the complex and went onto hit the front after just 4 laps. Hall had enough in hand to keep ahead without the pressue he had in race 1 but Sibley kept him honest and followed home in 2nd under 5 seconds behind. Sibley breifly re-took the lead on lap 9 but it was Hall`s day. Morris taking class A in 3rd
Anderson pushed his BMW ahead of Bicknell for 4th until the Ford took the position back on lap 10 in one of the best dices of the race , Anderson easing off when the BMW began to smoke slightly . For 6th James Plant shaved 4 seconds off his race 1 best and mixed it first with Cockerton and then with Cairns all race finishing in that order. Cairns winning class D. Reynolds ,Chodosh ,Burgoyne ,Lambert ( Cobra ) and Snowball rounded out the finishers. Beatty and Cockerton the only 2 retirements. David Beatty had started at the back and passed half the field until the engine went sick and he had to pit.
So credit due to Ian Hall for manfully bringing his mighty Darrian home 1st twice and with some discomfort to his legs too. He was delighted with his day's work and finished on 202 race wins since he started back in 1966. Also parise for the work of the drivers and mechanics that were busy fixing various problems as is often the case with these unique and stressed racing machines to get them back out each race.
Thus ends the decade ! Details of the 2020 season will be announced with hopes for a return to 4 or 5 UK events and more cars set to join the series !
James Plant ( Healey ) heads Jeremy Burgoyne ( Ford ) ,Tim Cairns ( Midget ) and Andy Lambert ( Cobra ) out of the chicane.