Friday 10 September 2010

Mamhead, Loton Park & Goodwood Hillclimb and Sprint Summer Roundup 2010

This year I have had more chance to compete in the Revington TR and TR Register, Sprint and Hillclimb Championship then in previous years and already I have managed to compete in 3 events. This is more then I have been able to do, by this time in the year, for quite a while. I have been taking part in my powder blue TR5 but as you will read later 6VC got pressed into action as well…

Mamhead Hillclimb (near Exeter) Sunday 30th May

This is a relatively new Hillclimb, set in the rolling hills of Devon. The event is organised by Torbay Motor Club and as is typical of many Hillclimbs in the UK in that it runs up the driveway of a stately home. In this particular instance the owner of the house and grounds is a motorsport fanatic and takes part up his own driveway in his very rapid Lotus Elan, but then he has a distinct advantage in being able to practice the hill every time he leaves the premises!
It was a gloriously sunny day and as the event is not too far from home, Sue (my wife) and I travelled down on the day, to compete against two of the TRs that had entered that day. One of which was Boysey’s TR7, but sadly he had a mishap on the previous day (there was another event on the Saturday), where he managed to cross the finish line backwards, followed by a swift exit into the scenery. Boysey turned up on Sunday with his MX5 but as one can imagine did not drive with such the same verve.

That left Graham Howard (in a TR6) and I, to battle for TR honours. Modesty precludes me to say who came out on top, but suffice to say it wasn’t a TR6, and a new class record was set. This is a new hill however and the mystery competitors class record, will I am sure soon fall to a more powerful machine.

Mamhead is a beautiful site, with beautiful views out to the ocean and well worth considering putting in your calendar, for next year’s event.

Loton Park 50th Anniversary Hillclimb, Shropshire, Saturday 50th July

Following on from Mamhead we travelled to Loton Park for the 50th anniversary event, organised by the Hagley and District Light Car Club. Another beautiful setting, this time a dear park and a very much longer hill, with varying scenery through trees and open grass line. It was a fantastic day with much interesting machinery taking part: Coopers, Ferrari’s, Morgans and Motor Bikes, with and without sidecars. Looking at how the Motor Bikes and combinations went up the hill, you have to be mad as a box of monkeys to ride up such a twisty hill at the speeds they were achieving.
Another first time for me at this hill, there were just 4 of us competing, all in 6 cylinder vehicles, 2 road going and 2 modified, with the results as one might expect with the modified TR5 of John Weedon coming out on top of the TR pile.

It was interesting to note that when looking at the results, that some of the cars in the Ferrari class were slower than the TRs, how can that be! One of the Ferrari chaps managed to shunt it backwards into a tyre-wall, creasing much of the rear end. Jonathan, John’s son (who was driving the TR5), commented that the rear body section of this particular Ferrari was a clamshell and before you even fit it to the car costs 25 grand at our friends in Maranello, even before you start to add labour. Ouch! Given this potential expense, this might go some way to explain why some of the Ferrari’s were being driven like woosies!

Goodwood Saturday 7th August

Finally we come to Goodwood. The drama started here the Thursday night before the event. Here at Revington TR we have a 400HP rolling road, which enables us to do some extremely accurate tuning. I had intended to take the TR5 to Goodwood and Carl Kiddell (our resident TR mechanic) and I thought it would be a good idea to give it a bit of a wiz on the rolling road, to see if we could squeeze a bit more out of it. We’d had the metering unit in bits and felt we had made a bit of an improvement, when on the final run at 10 O’clock at night at 6000 RPM on full throttle I noticed in the rear view mirror we were generating our own cloud formation. This prompted a fast switch off and power down. After the engine had cooled, we thought there was nothing to lose by trying to restart it. The engine turned over for half a turn, went THUNK! and stopped abruptly.  Removal of No. 6 plug and spinning over the engine, gave Carl an unwanted shower. It turns out that the head gasket had given up and when inspected it was obvious that this had been going for sometime. Given that the car has done 30, 000 miles of competition, which is probably equivalent of 150, 000 miles of normal driving, I don’t think it owes us anything.

So what to do? Well, take all of the stuff I normally take to Hillclimbs and put it in my ex-works TR4 Rally Car, 6VC and set of as if nothing had happened. The disadvantage of this quick change, was that we had no time to change wheels and tyres. So we turned up at Goodwood on an ancient set of Hankook road tyres. This proved interesting in practice, as the track was damp and you would have thought I was going round on ball bearings. As the tyres are heavily treaded it certainly would have been better if it had been raining persistently or completely dry. This is not to put Hankook in a bad light, in fact they are a preferred tyre of ours, but they were just not appropriate for the conditions in practice. This condition would be exacerbated by the quick change of car and on checking tyre pressures after practice, finding a couple were 5 lb down, oops!
Fortunately in the afternoon the track was dry and so times were much improved…..especially with correct tyre pressures! and achieved a low 113 seconds. Jim Giddings was well pleased with the new engine in his TR7 V8, managing for the first time to get below 100 seconds. Considering his is a road car, this is a great achievement, well done Jim! Larry Jeram-Croft, was not so happy double driving Hugh Maunds full race TR7 V8. Larry was hoping to pip Hugh but a slight drizzle in the afternoon thwarted his attempt and in the end came first in their class with 96.43 seconds.

I have been competing at Goodwood since the early 70s and anorakish as it is, I have kept a good many of the results sheets. It has puzzled me for a little while as to why it is that in 1983 I could do 111 seconds in my TR2 with, if I remember correctly, 185/70 Goodyear NCT road tyres. I know this was pre-kids and I was probably more of a lunatic then today, but it is still a puzzle! Having asked a few old blags their opinion on this, it transpires that when we used the circuit in the 70s and 80s for sprints, there was no chicane. This would account for the apparently better times in years gone by.

So far it has been an interesting season having made a decision to go to two events that I have not competed at before and with any luck I should be able to do at least another event before the seasons close. The TR5 engine is now back together and I took the opportunity to freshen it up a bit. So for the moment, with just 50 miles on the clock I have been pussy footing it around the lanes, treating it gently to run it in and I had very little time to spare prior to the Jigsaw race at Mallory Park. This took place on the August bank holiday weekend, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day and a report on this will follow soon, so please look out for it!

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