Saturday, 9 August 2014

Number 9 - Mallory Park

Been a few weeks since I was at Mallory Park but immediately after it I went on holiday and only just back to catch up though if you been looking at my Flickr page you will have seen the photos have been up there since I got back from the circuit - but then that is the easy part - composing what to write is a bit harder.

We went to Jersey and Guernsey on holiday and while there I caught up with a bit of sand racing at St Helier - very similar to autograss just a different surface and, as you can see from the following pictures, the specials look very similar too.

Though this one was a bit different

However, back to Mallory Park and for the only car meeting of the year I thought the crowd was a bit disappointing in size, though I presume the organisers must have been pleased by the numbers as apparently they ran out of programmes.

The stars of the day were the Special Saloons and Modsports and I make no bones about it that these are some of my favourite cars on the British circuits today - as they were 30-40 years ago when some of them were in their heyday. Unfortunately there were were few originals from that era at Mallory as far as I could tell but it is always great to the see the Vauxhall Carlton of Pete Stevens who apparently has had the car for 24 years - and it is always immaculately turned out as you can see below:

And here it is at Brands Hatch in 1993 - sorry about quality of photo - pre - digital!!

It always looks so much less 'modified' than some of the other specials - for example what car would you say this was?

That in fact is Rob Compton's Vauxhall Belmont (Astra Saloon) which has a 6.7 litre engine and is therefore very much in the spirit of the original Super Saloons such as Mick Hill's VW. That car of course is still running and it was out at the first revival of the Super Saloons at Mallory Park in 2011.

My favourites however are the many Hillman Imp / Sunbeam Stiletto variations, none as outrageous as the Chimp (Chevron / Imp) of Jonathan Buncombe, but here is a selection of those on the circuit at Mallory Park this year:

Martin Baker

Kevin Cooper in the ex-Charles Barter hillclimbing Solo Stiletto in which Charles dominated small saloon hillclimbing in 1980

 and this is John Woods in the Maguire Stiletto

and Andrew Jones / Mike Bratby's AG Shrigley Hillman Imp

In actual fact not all of the Special Saloons are historic and one of the modern interpretations of the theme which always catches attention, even if only because of the colour ,is Steven Moss's Ford Anglia spaceframe: 

There was a fantastic turnout of 31 cars at Mallory Park and even though the numbers dwindled through the three races until only 16 started the third race they put on a great show and for me they have been the highlight of the year so far. Many more pictures on my Flickr page at - for these cars in particular.

The rest of the Mallory programme did its best to match the Special Saloons and Modsports and probably, if truth be told, provided better racing. The CSCC Sports v Saloons smaller classes were highlighted by a duel between Pete Edwards in a Fiesta and Ian Collins in his Clio in which no quarter was asked or given while the larger engined classes matched Porsche Boxster of Will Sharpe against the Morgan +8 of Tony Lees with one win apiece being the final tally.

A small field of 7s entertained but the monoposto single seaters tended to get a bit strung out except for a race long battle between Tim Cameron and Craig Hurran which ended with retirement for Tim on the last lap.

At the end of the day it was great to have Mallory back again - for viewing purposes there can be fewer better circuits in England and the short length of the track always seems to produce exciting racing somewhere in a race. For the new owners a small plea - can we have tannoys between the Esses and the hairpin - there is a gap in the coverage there and I am sure there would be a greater crowd in that area if they were able to know what was going on.

One final point - there is a book on the market called England's Motoring Heritage From The Air - ISBN: 978-1-84802-087-0 which includes 4 photographs of motor racing circuits - Brooklands 1921, Silverstone 1971 and that is a wonderful shot of the old pits, Brands Hatch 1955 - before the GP loop was built but interestingly the path it eventually did take is clearly seen as a clearing in the woods, and Mallory Park in 1956 and the main change here is that there is no lake in the middle!! Grab a copy of it if you can - Amazon have it at £14.74 upwards - there are another 150-odd fascinating photos all reflecting the title of the book between its covers.

Circuit number 10 is Knockhill and for that I am going to the BTCC round on 14th August - here's hoping the good weather continues because I have some bad memories of the weather at Knockhill - can you imagine a Rallycross being cancelled because it was TOO MUDDY!! More next time.

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