The first running of the Formula Vauxhall Lotus was at Donnington Park at a St. Cross Electronics Mono Championship test day. With a series of successful sessions only marred by an electrical gremlin at the end of the day. This was to prove being the fuel pump bracket that had broken due to corrosion during shipping trans Atlantic. Support was provided by Stanbridge Motorsports.
As a round of the Monoposto Championship as well as an opportunity for the Elise to race again with its new shocks, HSR’s annual Mitty at Road Atlanta was a busy event. Without any serious competition full points were on offer for the Monoposto Formula Ford Championship; however, the Elise had a troubled weekend. It took several sessions on track to get the correct set-up for the shocks since turn 1 at Road Atlanta resulted in the rear left tires rubbing when too soft a setting was used. However, by the end of the weekend the Elise showed that it could race head-to-head against cars with significantly more horsepower.
The Brickyard is one of the world’s most famous race tracks, and the opportunity to race both the road course and the oval is something not to be missed. In addition, as a key event in the Monoposto race series there was always going to be lots of competition. However, with 56 cars in the run group ranging from fast Formula B cars to very slow Formula Fords it was difficult to get a good qualifying lap. A qualifying position of 24 out of a total of 58 cars and 7th in FF was fair; however, support by Sasco Sports helped with regard to gear ratios. In the race significant advancement was possible with a final 5th in class and 15th overall. The oval event on Sunday was rain, rain and more rain, but it was an experience not to be forgotten.
After a successful test at Donnington, Thruxton was a frustrating but fun weekend as my first race in the St. Cross Electronics Mono Championship. The start of the weekend was hampered by sound regulation issues that turned out to be due to the packing in the exhaust having corroded to a lump of rust. New packing added by Standbridge Motorsports meant I was once again legal. Qualifying was really a session learning how fast Thruxton is as a track, while Saturday’s race was compromised by, first having “launch” issues at the start (I stalled the car) and second, forgetting to tighten my helmet properly. The latter meant I had no vision for the fastest sections of the track: in other words most of the lap. But I still managed 8th. Sunday was a little better and I managed to have a great battle with several cars even if I did only managed 9th.
Sitting on the dry grid on Saturday the clouds opened up and there was a rush by the Stanbridge Motorsports crew to change to a set of rain tires. Unfortunately, they were 4 years old and hard as nails. Slipping and sliding and even a few spins meant that 7 laps later I finished 10th in class and a total of 37th out of 46 starters. But I also felt lucky to have finished with no damage and my pride mostly intact. Once again it rained on Sunday. And once again the old rain tires were next to useless. However, several major spins made me realize that an issue with the gear shift linkage meant I was upshifting from 3rd to 4th instead of downshifting 3rd to 2nd. Once this was appreciated I took it easy and limited the 3rd to 2nd shifts. This resulted in a slightly better finish than the Saturday: 33rd out of 45. All in all a fun non-championship weekend.
Last year I had the throttle cable snap on the 1st lap of the feature race while I was in 2nd place. The goal of this year was to finish and do well. In the Saturday qualifying race I finished 1st in the rain; however, it was spoiled by a serious accident to a beautiful Lotus 23. Luckily it was just the car that had serious damage. For the British Heritage race on Saturday I lined up on pole, much to the annoyance of an all to serious competitor in an Austin-Healey 100, who had been on pole for the last few years. He even protested with the Chief Steward. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for bhp (his 2660 cc versus my 1600 cc) and sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. After a series of almost suicide maneuvers by the driver of the Healey, that I could see ending in tears (remember this is supposed to be a fun event), I decided to let him buy on the start finish straight, which prompted the chief steward to thank me afterwards saying this particular competitor was “a menace” who seemed to think we were there for more than a tin trophy and a case of what must be the worst beer ever. Anyway a 2nd place was good enough and in the damp conditions it was just great to finish in one piece. In Sunday’s feature race the main competition was a Lotus 23B and Lotus 18 (in different classes) who both had the legs on the Seven. However, my case was not helped by a friend (James Smith) breaking down and creating a local yellow that allowed the Lotus 23 to catch me as I slowed by a back marker. Despite this a 1st place in the L67 class (out of 7) and a 3rd overall (out of 23) was an achievement compared to the previous year.
A chance to race the historic Silverstone GP track could not be missed. It would not be 2014 without rain at an event. Saturday was dry but spent learning what is a challenging track. Not in the same way as COTA or VIR where it is all about flow, but its all about having commitment, especially in Copse Corner as well as the Abbey/Farm complex. It also has two of the slowest corners you can imagine the Loop and Luffield. At the end of the day 10th was the best that could be achieved. The Sunday race was so wet that the pace car actually brought the grid in even before we got a chance to start the race. Again the Stanbridge Motorsports crew did an excellent job in making sure we were among the 1st to get ready on the rains. With new rain tires the going was much better than had been at Spa, but despite some valiant efforts the best that was managed was a 10th in class (again).
An issue with the timing on the car meant that I was running with no power and despite VIR being a favorite track I qualified last in a 25 car field and 10th in Formula Ford. Not a good start to a weekend key in defending the Monoposto Championship. However, with the correct timing my lap times dropped from an embarrassing 2:48.151 to a reasonable 2:16.309. However, this was only good enough for 3rd in class (15th overall) because I spent too long trying to get passed a slower Club Ford. Sunday started at 3rd in class enabled me to really show my true speed and get 1st (10th overall) with a 2:14.188.
Not so much as a race weekend (but there is some great racing) as an event. Run for many years by the Historic Motor Sports Association (HMSA) the Coronado Speed Festival (or “the Race at the Base”) is part of the annual Fleet Week on Coronado Island of the coast of San Diego, California. To make sure it is more for fun and to support the Navy personnel, no lap times are provided except after the final race. The track is a typical airport base with cones and expansion gaps in the concrete. But despite this it is the Friday dinner at the Admiral’s house and the Sunday night reception on the flight deck of the USS Nimitz that make this event a must do for vintage racers. Finishing 4th and 6th in the two races out of 30 cars was a good result considering some of the competition. Unfortunately, this was the last year that HMSA will run the event as SVRA has taken over, presumably as a function of a bigger checkbook.
Déjà vu all over again… In the key qualifying session the gearshift linkage broke, just as it has at COTA in the F1 support race in 2013. Sasco Sports fixed the linkage bracket and I managed 18th out of 30 in the Group. In race 1 a 4th in class with a 2:37.301 was the best that could be hoped with a couple of hot-shoe pro drivers racing some very odd sounding Formula Fords. Funnily enough they sounded a bit like a 1700 cc engine – not that anyone in Vintage racing would do such a thing… However, with Sasco Sports working on the optimum gear ratio I managed to drop even more time and managed a 3rd in class with a 2:36.022. This was one race where there was nothing left on the table.
Two years after Daytona killed the engine of the Seven it was back with HSR at the Speedway. As part of the support race for the Classic 24 Hours of Daytona the HSR events involved 2 races and an International Challange race that went into the night. Despite being aerodynamically and cubic inch challenged the Seven aquitted itself well with a 12th and a 13th. The Seven conquered Daytona with the support of Sasco Sports.