Tuesday, 7 July 2015

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

To paraphrase Charles Dickens - it was a Tale of Two Hills at the weekend and to Jos Goodyear it must have seemed that no words were so apt as those above. It really was the 'Best of Times' for him at Barbon Manor as the clock display shows - a new record, beating the old record by 0.42 seconds, an amazing percentage reduction, and an apt time considering the previous record had been set in 2008! And he had had one less 'practice' run than the others as a problem on his first qualification meant that he missed the first run-off.

And then, if not the 'Worst of Times', then maybe just the 'not far off worst of times' at Harewood the following day: more problems in practice meant that he had to transfer to the sister, normally aspirated, car of Richard Spedding for the timed runs. A good run to 5th position in the first run-off but then, as the heavens opened in the second run-off, his chain snapped and another no-score was registered. It has been a real switchback ride for Jos this year - 4 wins and 4 FTDs in a row but only 2 other finishes in the top 4, a couple of failed runs and an exclusion for noise at Prescott. He currently lies 6th in the Championship and needs a good run of results to help him get further up the table. Not only that but the switch of cars at Harewood meant that he would not score any points in the Leaders Championship as you can only score points in the one class and the Spedding car runs in the up to 1600cc class while his usual car is in the up to 2000cc class.

But maybe I have found his secret:

Is that Jos' 'Demon Twig' lying there?? (spotted in the paddock after 'The Run').

Mind you he is not the only one searching for that elusive advantage - it is obvious that Nicola's diet for Wallace has been having an effect - but maybe he really needs a periscope!!

While a similar diet is apparently being tried by Robert Spedding - you need all the help you can get in these Formula Fords!

Tim Elmer was trying a different tweak at Harewood - obviously still trying to get the aerodynamic balance right on his gorgeous Dallara -

while Alastair Crawford may not have a Raptor to drive, but maybe if he paints one on the front it will be just what is needed...

And talking of the beautiful thing that is a Raptor (car or bird), does the following picture qualify for the title of 'Beauty and the Beast'?

Jos' beauty next to the giant Chevrolet Special of Peter Jory. If you have never seen one of these Guernsey sandracers you would not believe how big they are and with the driver perched close to the front it must be like driving a single-deck bus - where the hell do you apex a thing that size??

Barbon experienced great weather on Saturday and so it was disappointing that there was entry of less than 60 - maybe the bad weather of recent years has put people off and I must admit that the paddock cannot be the best of places to be on a wet day.

The forecast for Harewood was for rain about 3 pm and sure enough a light shower disrupted the first run-off with the early runners, Tom New, Richard Spedding and Alex Summers, as the slower qualifiers of double driven cars, really suffering and ending up 12th, 11th and 10th respectively. The weather stayed dry for the next couple of hours but as the second run - off approached the skies got really dark though it looked like we might escape but then with 4 cars to go the heavens opened. Wallace Menzies just got in a good time and finished 4th but then as Jos came to the line it got wetter and the delay while he was pushed back with a broken chain meant that for the last 3 drivers it was a case of getting to the top as safely as possible as few points were going to be earned - from Wallace's 51.92 we went to 69.44 for Trevor Willis, 66.11 for Will Hall and it seemed to be 66.34 for Alex Summers who had a wretched day - having been at the wrong end of the run-off (early) in the first one he was once again at the wrong end (late) in the second one.

The clock for Alex's run had initially showed an unbelievable 56.42 but then gradually changed to the time above but it seems that there was a glitch in the timing and under normal circumstances he would have had a re-run. However, an accident in the paddock involving a marshall and a fire extinguisher needed the services of the ambulance and with conditions worsening Alex was given 10th place as the last driver to complete his run (as well as Jos' failure, Paul Haimes had non-started). I am not sure that has ever happened before in BHC history but at the end of the day it is unlikely to matter as it is almost certainly going to be one of the 6 scores that Alex discards at the end of the season (only the best 28 out of 34 scores count).

One also has to wonder about the tactics of Scott Moran in the second set of timed runs - with rain forecast and the clouds appearing it would obviously be better if you went as early as possible in the run-off and so was there a deliberate ploy by the 5 times Champion to qualify slower than his co-driver and get first bite of the cherry - you don't get to be Champion so often without learning some tricks along the way!!

Time for another picture - appearng at both hills was Malcolm Wishart with a beautiful Lotus 41

and helpfully he had an information sheet about the car which I have included below for all of those racing car historians:

Definitely one of my favourite cars of the weekend - even if it is not orange! I will explain the 'orange' theme in a later blog - but there were two around at the weekend - Andrew Russell's venerable Ginetta G15 and Timothy Higgins' Westfield (sorry no picture of the Ginetta)

One of the good things about hillclimbing is that if you have a car you use in another discipline of motor sport then you can probably find a class for it somewhere on a hillclimb.

It could be Formula Ford - Phil Nelson was climbing at Barbon in his Hawke DL2B

 - last year I caught him racing at Anglesey:

Also last year Jonathan Baines was racing his Merlyn Mk20, including this time at Snetterton;

and here he was in the paddock at Harewood

while his father and brother were sharing a lovely Morgan Roadster (another favourite of the weekend)

James Proctor's Nissan 350Z shows its allegiance to the Time Attack series

while the mud-flaps give away the fact that Gary Houghton's Toyota Starlet is a rally car

or maybe it was the Rally Plate on the door!!

One feature of Barbon Manor is the cattle grid at the top of the hill at the entrance to the holding paddock

I guess this is one hill that this car could not visit (the clue is in the name!!):

(John Oxborrow's car is called an Ox for those unfamiliar with the Gurston Down regular)

Travelling around all the hillclimbs it is always interesting to see the similarities, but also the differences between hills. For example at most hills I would expect that the driver who has recorded the fastest time of the day would get the FTD Trophy - but at Barbon it goes to the fastest driver in the class runs and so, in spite of the fact that Jos set such a stonker of a record in the run - off, the FTD Trophy went to Alex Summers for an almost pedestrian 20.73! And it was a pretty nice trophy too (the big one below):

Another difference is in the quality and content of the programmes - now hillclimbing is all about the time and so the one thing that spectators want to record for posterity are the times set by all the drivers on all their competitive runs - so why do clubs produce programmes WITHOUT ANY SPACE TO WRITE IN THE TIMES - Doune and Barbon Manor step forward please!! If other venues can manage it why not you - yes we live in a digital age but you cannot expect people to be carrying around a tablet / laptop to check the times on Resultsman or TSL or wherever - if nothing else I do not think my battery would last a whole day of constantly accessing the Internet. So please, please, please make some space for us punters to record what we are seeing!

Secondly, wrt to programmes, if you are going to publish records or past results please get them complete and right - employ a proof-reader who knows about hillclimbing. I have no qualms in showing you this abomination of a page from the Barbon programme;

I will leave you to spot the mistakes and omissions - I will be writing to the organisers with a complete and correct version which I would hope they will use next year!

Mind you it was good of them to lay on a new event at Barbon - the 50 metre dash for spectators - you gotta be quick because the drivers will not be stopping for you!!

Finally a reminder of the contrasting fortunes of sport - at the end of the day at Barbon the awards table was laden with the prizes for the winners,

but just a few yards away was one very sorry loser who had taken advantage of the extra run offered to the National B runners only to have a most monumental accident - fortunately the driver fared better than his car:

Off to the Channel Islands next and the blog from there will be delayed until after I return from a week's holiday in Devon and the Wiscombe round - Mrs Brown is accompanying me and so some quality family time is expected!

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