Chris ‘Scrutineering’ Dymock helps out at the 2015 Dick Mayo Sprint to discover many competitors using their classic cars as a track weapon of choice to successfully compete against modern day machinery. Words and Pictures: Chris Dymock.
Blimey, and my favourite weekend of the year just got a whole lot more interesting. I imagine most of us have a favourite weekend during the course of a year; be it returning to a regular holiday haunt, attending a music or other cultural festival or, as in my case, a weekend spent with a group of like-minded friends participating in a chosen hobby.
For a number of years now, the period around the third weekend of July has encompassed not only my birthday (still celebrated with gusto despite the local fire brigade slapping me with a prohibition notice due to the prodigious number of candles required on my birthday cake these days) but also a fabulous weekend with Bristol Motor Club at Castle Combe racing circuit, starting with the 2015 Dick Mayo Sprint on the Saturday and a themed classic car gathering on the Sunday (see Separate Report).
My role for both of these days was as event commentator (more announcer, really) and the mix of a day of competitive club level motorsport followed by a more relaxing day spent with a paddock rammed with a truly eclectic mix of classic cars of all eras and some wonderfully entertaining owners is what makes this particular weekend very special for me and something I look forward to with relish.
So, returning to my opening line, just how did the start of my favourite weekend become even better? Well, despite the 2015 Dick Mayo Sprint event secretary sending me the final entry list the previous week, my work commitments pretty much precluded me from paying it too much attention and it wasn`t until I was underway with my routine of calling the various classes to the assembly area for the first of the day`s timed practice runs that I began to realise this year`s sprint contained far more classics than I`ve ever seen at one of the club`s competitive events.
With this event including a round of the Healey Sport Sprint and Hillclimb Championship, giving us a couple of 3000s battling it out with various incarnations of Sprites around the circuit, and a final result of an Ashley Sprite narrowly pipping a big Healey to the top step of the podium the 2015 Dick Mayo Sprint was warming up nicely.
However, what was more of a pleasant shock was the sheer number of classic cars taking part in the classes that are usually the preserve of more modern machinery. In all of the classes for standard and modified production cars (which are classified by engine capacity limitations and/or regulated modifications respectively) we had the most extraordinary collection of classic cars I`ve ever witnessed at a Bristol Motor Club sprint and that were competing hard for a share of the awards.
The 2015 Dick Mayo Sprint held me enthralled as the following assemblage of old stagers went about showing the younger generation that age is no barrier when it comes to thrashing out a decent time around a racing circuit. There were several original Mini`s, Lotus Elan +2 S130, Triumph Dolomite Sprint, TR4, TR6s, TR7, TR7 V8s, Spitfire & GT6, MGBs, Suffolk Jaguar SS100, Jaguar E-Type, Riley Racing MPH, Reliant Scimitar SSi, Ford Anglia, Hillman Avenger Tiger, even a Davrian MK8.
And if slightly more modern classics are your thing, how about a; Citroen Saxo VTS, Peugeot 106 and 106 Rallye, Honda Integra, Vauxhall VX220, TVR Chimaera & Griffith, Mitsubishi Evo VI RS and original Lancer Turbo, Renault Clio 172 Cup, and numerous Lotus Elises and Mazda MX5s.
What a fantastic collection of wonderful classic and future classic cars with top places being awarded to one of the TR7 V8s, Davrian, Jaguar E-Type and Suffolk SS100 in their respective classes. Add this to the numerous other top three podium places in the 2015 Dick Mayo Sprint being awarded to other classics during the day and you really couldn`t accuse the old lags of hanging around. Even if they couldn’t quite match the latest generation Nissan Skyline GTR explode off the line and disappear into the distance like it had been hit by the blast from a tactical nuclear weapon, they left the day heads held high.
But, you know, one of the highlights for me wasn`t just the fantastic cars that turned up to compete, but having a wander around the paddock in the lunch hour and being invited to sit and have a chat with Fred Abernathy about his Suffolk Jaguar SS100 – and who was grinning like the proverbial Cheshire Cat as he was competing in his first ever sprint at the tender age of sixty several – and his friends, Colin and Julia Dean-Wolstenholme, who have been taking part in a number of motorsport events in their glorious 1930s Riley Racing MPH since completing an epic 16 year restoration a couple of years ago.
And that`s the thing about club level motorsport, the undeniable friendliness of the folks who take part and who are ever helpful when a fellow competitor is having problems; as witnessed at this event when what appeared to be an entire class of contenders were huddled around a car and apparently wielding the contents of several toolboxes as they helped one of their number overcome some problem or other so that he or she could get back into the competition. Just brilliant.
Yes, of course you can have a lot of fun with your classic car on weekend excursions in the Great British countryside, or pottering to your favourite hostelry for a Sunday roast, but there is definitely some serious enjoyment to be had mixing with some truly fabulous people as you go about using your driving skills in achieving the best time you can over a set course. Interested, then there is only one way to find out.
How does this event make you feel?
In one word: Uplifted.
As a favourite meal: Given the sheer variety and quality of the cars at the event, on this occasion it would have to be the scrumptious birthday supper with my other half in our favourite Italian Restaurant on the Saturday night.
Anything else: Club level motorsport – get involved and discover a wonderful new element of the world of classic car ownership. Don’t want to compete, then how about joining the organising team or helping out by becoming a Marshal?
Key ingredients: Great cars and tremendous people – simply the best.
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