Thursday, 24 September 2015

It's Summers time at Doune

Yes the sun was shining at Doune (at least on Saturday - but it stayed dry on Sunday too) and we had a scorching hillclimb to go with it. Not only a new champion in Alex Summers but a total of 5 new class records at the end of the day, though in one of those cases there were 8 runs all below the old mark which had stood for 12/13 years.

We might as well start with that one which happened in our favourite class of the year - up to 1100 racing cars. The record had stood to Adam Fleetwood (September 2002) and Mark Budgett (June 2003) at 40.78. In the first class runs Simon Fidoe lowered it to 40.33 and Steve Marr also got beneath it with 40.44. In the first run-off they then showed that more was possible with Steve doing a 39.91 and Simon a 40.21 - but of course not counting as class records. Come the second class runs they made it stick with Simon setting the mark at 39.97 before Steve blew it apart with a 39.43! And then in the second run-off it was Simon on 40.16 and Steve on 39.56 just to prove that the class runs were not a fluke!

Here is Steve pictured at the June meeting at Doune in the PCD Saxon

and Simon at Harewood in June in the Empire Wraith showing the different aerodynamic approaches between the 2 cars.

Another Scotsman setting the heather alight was Les Mutch, newly crowned as Scottish Hillclimb Champion. A troubled run of 40.36 in the first of the class runs was not going to challenge Lee Adams' 37.62 set in the same car but come the afternoon and there was no mistake with a 37.59 to take the record by a narrow margin. This qualified Les in 4th place for the second run-off and he recorded 37.85 in that for a 7th place finish.

Here he is doing a bit of hand-jiving to loosen those muscles before a run!

Another single-seater-equipped Scotsman setting a record was Malcolm Wishart in his Lotus 41C in the classic racing car class (pre -71) where he recorded a 49.43 to break Rob Bremner's record of 50.96 and was also below it on his second run (50.46).  Here is the car in all its glory at Barbon Manor back in July

and Malcolm always displays its history when it is parked in the paddock (I hope this is readable).

The other two records were set in the Road - going Series Production classes. In the up to 2 litre class Jim King's time of 50.94 in his Renault Clio 172 removed Sandy Coghill's 51.07 from the record book,

while in the over 2 litre class Chris Randell's sinister black Mitsubishi Evo8 took 49.26 seconds to dip below Archie Bain's record of 50.04, both of the old records having been set in June 2010.

All 5 of the new record holders are Scottish (which may not be surprising) but also, apart from Malcolm Wishart, the rest all come from the North East with Steve and Les from Aberdeen and Jim and Chris from Inverurie - which is a small town about 15 miles North West of the Granite City - maybe there is something in the water in the area which is also the home of Graeme Wight and Craig and Alan Nicol (Craig holds the record for road-going specialist production cars).

Another hillclimber from the area is Stuart Sugden who drives a GWR Mini. Stuart is a plumber by trade (
he fitted some central heating for my sister) and he must be used to crawling into small spaces to investigate a leak - but here he is getting some practice while father Jim assesses his efforts.

Before we finish on records - in the up to 2 litre single seater class the record stands to Alex Summers at 38.04 from June 2013. The class was won by Dave Uren this week with times of 38.32 and 38.19. Excellent but not record-breaking. Dave's run-off times, however were 37.22(!) and 37.69. Stunning times which will not be recognised except by anoraks like myself (and maybe Jerry and Eddie) but they must not be forgotten. There must be quite a few 'unofficial' records like that which are not recorded in programmes because they were not set in class runs - surely this is a bit unfair?? One hopes they are recorded in club records but somehow I don't think they necessarily will be.

So Alex Summers became the new British champion and he did it in true champion style winning both run-offs. Wallace Menzies set the target in the first one at 35.90 and he was followed by Trevor Willis who had to win to keep alive his hopes, at least for another few minutes. However, gearbox issues which helped him to have all 4 wheels off at the top of East Brae restricted him to 38.96 and so we had a new champion even before Alex took his run but there was no letting up and 35.65 seconds later he had won the run-off and confirmed the title. He would have been excused for taking it easy in the afternoon and his qualifying run was relatively slow at 36.63, but he was still fastest qualifier! Wallace then set a new FTD with 35.54 in the run-off but just minute later that had been surpassed as Alex rounded off the day with 34.82, just 6/100 ths slower than Scott Moran's outright hill record!

This was also the 17th BHC title for Gould cars, equalling the record of Pilbeam, but the dominance of Gould has been greater - only once has that sequence been interrupted, when Trevor Willis won in 2012 while Pilbeam's run was broken 4 times, once of course by Chris Cramer in the original Gould 84 which was present at Doune with both Chris and David Gould driving to celebrate 30 years since that title victory.

There were lots of people interested in the car including this certain constructor whose cars have of course been one of the main challengers to Gould in recent years:

I wonder if he picked up any tips!!

Meanwhile, Gould's dominance has Tim Wilson worried and he is seen here asking Alisdair Suttie if he could organise a Multi-Car Challenge for next year's BHC! Can you imagine 12 Audi S8s!!

It was a Honda Civic Type-R for their penultimate round and it was a superb car which took them to personal bests (I believe) at Doune by the end of the weekend. Next week at Loton should be interesting - has there ever been a bigger car than a VW Toureg to climb Loton (or any hillclimb!)? The Civic passed me on the Monday as I was driving slowly but steadily down the M6 - I just had time to clock the number plate to check it was the very car before it became a little red dot - and no it was not David or Alisdair driving - but what a job for a delivery driver!!

One of the many good things about hillclimbing is the ability for families to share cars and there are many husband and wife combinations on the hills, but also fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons and even three generations all still competing. Are there any mothers and daughters I might have missed I wonder - probably! Having never competed directly against my wife or my sons I often wonder what relationships become like when one of the drivers has a slight coming together with the scenery or suddenly shows a turn of speed and beats the previously dominant partner!!

People watching in the paddock can be fascinating and here are Scott Sheridan and Richard Summers waiting patiently for their wives to return their cars

but it was all OK - and here is Lindsay helping Richard on his way to the start

but it looks as if Lesley wants another shot and Scott reckons the best way to stop her is to sit on her wheel!!

Wheel-sitting is catching and here we catch Steve Owen having a contemplative moment (or is he in the huff) on the wheel of John MacKenzie's OMS 2000M as he waits to attack the hill in the second run-off

Steve was driving the Honda powered OMS number 3 at the weekend - and it is interesting to compare this car, seen below, with the latest OMS product - the BMW powered OMS 28 seen at Loton earlier in the year.

A number of people have said how much they like to see the older photographs in the blog and so here are a few from Doune 21 years ago in September 1994. These are all scanned from prints and so excuse the poorer quality.

And we start with that man Steve Owen who was driving this OMS SC1 - I think I liked the paint job!

And to revert to the present for a moment, Richard Matossian had his version (or is it the same car?) at Doune last weekend

Back to 1994 and my last OMS picture (honestly) for this blog is Mark Lawrence in what is described simply as an OMS 1100.

One of Mark's competitors in the class was David Smith in what is described as Sidewinder 2 - anybody got information on that car?

In my last blog I rated David Seaton's Pilbeam MP43 as one of my favourite cars and here is another one of the 4 chassis that were produced - this is Jim Robinson's car, co-driven here by Rob Fradley - this car then went to Charlie Smith in the Channel Islands.

And finally from 1994 - where it all began for the Moran family in the BHC - this is Roger's MP62 - chassis 4, at that time with 1.6 Vauxhall power, which still competes in the hands of Andrew Henson and Nicola Dearden with some modifications to MP82 spec.

I hope those photos maybe brought back some happy memories.

And so to my favourite cars from the weekend - if you were not there on Saturday you will have missed Lewis Duncan's Hillman Imp as it broke on its second practice run, but here it is trying to look like an Alan Fraser Imp from the 1960s

Secondly - another, even older car - it may have been the slowest car of the day but Roger Williams' Austin 7 Speedex looked like great fun

and my third choice is this very smart Mazda MX5 of Danny and James Clark - I am not really a fan of the MX5 but this one looked particularly smart.

And finally what does a newly crowned champion do to celebrate - well he has a chat with Mum and Dad of course - though it looks like Richard may be a bit emotional - or maybe he just has something in his eye!!

Well done again Alex and looking forward to the final event of the season at Loton Park - I don't know how these guys do all the travelling with their cars / trailers / motorhomes etc - I only have myself to think about and I am pretty tired!!!

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