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It must be Spring because we have just had a day with our friends from the world of F500. These are some of the most eccentric race cars you are ever likely to see but their owners are a jolly crowd who have run a test day every Spring since 2012. This year they were joined by some Formula Juniors and a stunning pre-war short oval racer.
It seems incredible that the Winter months are behind us and the racing season has already begun with a great start to the F1 season in Melbourne and the BTCC kicking off next weekend.
Due to the remarkably benign Winter weather, we have been really busy right through from November to this Easter weekend and as usual we have been privileged to welcome a wonderful mixture of cars and owners.
Quite a few of these have been able to sample the mighty McLaren 650S which I have been entrusted with by those lovely people at McLaren Automotive… and how impressed have they been?
Here is Touring Car rising star: Tom Ingram… the guy who re-overtook the legendary Jason Plato in an epic duel at Rockingham last year… I think his facial expression says it all.
Le Mans Winner Guy Smith, seen here with his new Focus Rally car, also expressed amazement at the McLaren’s abilities… and after a practice day here, went on to win the Jack Frost Rally at Croft. I first met Guy at Blyton back in 1990 when Auto Windscreens (which my brother and I eventually owned) was sponsoring a team called First Time Racing… quite a lot has happened in the intervening 26 years and Guy has enjoyed a career as one of the UK’s most perennially successful drivers. He is of course still contracted to Bentley and races all over the world.
It will be five years in May since we built the first new circuit at Blyton Park and although we have invested in the place continuously, our good friends at Jordan Road Surfacing returned in December to carry out a whole programme of new developments.
On the circuit, many areas of run-off have been resurfaced (and painted yellow!) which will undoubtedly lead to faster lap times in the many Sprint events scheduled for 2016.
In addition, the entrance road and paddock have benefitted from substantial areas of new tarmac.
We have also bought a new pick-up truck from Jeremy and the team at Nunns in Grimsby and the Briefing Suite is now fully heated.
In January, Dickie Meaden and the EVO boys returned with two amazing classics: the poster car for a whole generation in the form of the outrageous Lamborghini Countach and the utterly stunning Mercedes 300 SL. You can see them being driven on the EVO YouTube Channel.
Our Advanced Driving Academy Courses with Mark Hales have proved to be extremely popular with drivers taking to the circuit not only in the remarkable new MX5 but also a wide range of other machinery… from this gargantuan Rolls Royce to this sweet and unique Formula Ford by Ginetta.
Ginetta and their cars have been amongst our most regular visitors in 2015 and we were interested to see their new G57 when it dropped in with Mike Simpson to shake down: a very serious racing car!
Track days have continued throughout the Winter and the cars which participate are as eclectic as ever. I really loved this pristine Hillman Avenger and the Sunbeam which came on the same day took me back to 1984 when I owned a Sunbeam Lotus.
The revival of Rallycross is one of the “good news” stories of contemporary motorsport and it was a great privilege to welcome Petter Solberg to Blyton Park in January and admire both his driving and engineering skills in his World Championship-winning Monster Citroën DS3.
Of course Winter always brings out the rally cars to test and here is a Mark 2 Escort which should stir memories of the great Roger Albert Clark.
Experience days continue to delight hundreds of people who come to drive supercars of every sort. A unique take on this is Tom and Ceri Roche’s “Car Chase Heroes” who were here on Valentine’s Day with their unique fleet of film and TV star cars. Sadly Daisy Duke did not emerge in her legendary hot pants from the immense “General Lee”!
Talking of supercars, they seem unable to stay away… here is an expensive line up from an Owners’ Day in February and here is the new Ferrari 488 meeting its nemesis from the UK!
March 8th 2016 will always be a “red letter day” for me. Rob Hall finally appeared to shake down Lotus 72 chassis number 1, in my view one of the most iconic and beautiful race cars ever made. Chassis one was the prototype car, tested extensively by my all-time hero: Jochen Rindt and raced by both John Miles and Graham Hill.
Sadly of course, Rindt was killed in a similar 72 on 4th September 1970 when he decided that the car would be faster for qualifying at Monza without the front and rear wings. John Miles described the car in this form as virtually undriveable and Jochen died as a result of a massive accident on the approach to Parabolica.
However, having already won five Grand Prix that year, he became the sport’s only posthumous World Champion. Hall and Hall have made a stunning job (as usual) of restoring the car and I am extremely grateful to them for allowing me to sit in it. I was only 13 when Rindt was killed but I will never forget the moment I heard he had died only a few weeks after the equally tragic deaths of Bruce McLaren and Piers Courage.
Things were of course very different nearly fifty years ago… and in those days local motor clubs were the bedrock of motorsport and membership was essential if you were a car enthused youngster. For reasons which I don’t completely understand, “clubbiness” seems to be very out of fashion and many car clubs have ceased to exist or are facing a slow decline into obscurity. Fortunately, there are exceptions and we run club days in the week for enthusiasts to have a chance to drive on track.
Huddersfield Motor Club pioneered this concept with us in the early days and most recently Peterborough Motor Club joined us for a day of relaxed car enjoyment. The turnout of cars is always interesting as this assortment (a Sports 2000 Tiga, a Clan Crusader and a lovely racing “Anglebox” Ford Anglia) demonstrates. If you are a member of a club and would like to run a club day, please give me a call.
It’s Easter Sunday and the Scunthorpe and District MC have a huge autograss meeting in full swing whilst down on the tarmac we have the first motorbike track day of the year. For those of you racing or sprinting or even rallycrossing this year I wish you a fast, safe and above all fun season.
The Javelin Sprint Series kicks off here next weekend with a bumper entry… so if you want to dip your toe into the world of competitive motor sport, give Colin a call… you don’t need a competition license and the car does not need to be to full MSA spec as these events are run under a non-MSA permit. I have done them in the past and it’s fun, competitive and a bit more social than a track day… because there will be someone who is only a bit quicker than you… and also someone who is only a little bit slower, so inevitably rivalry of a friendly kind develops during the day for the glory of picking up a trophy! See www.javelinsprintdays.co.uk or call 01469 560574.
Now I am off to have a piece of Easter cake made by Vanda, the lovely lady in our clubhouse who keeps you all fed and watered.
Have fun, stay safe and we hope to see you over the Summer!
STOP THE PRESS!
Congratulations to Tom Ingram (pictured above in the McLaren) on winning the first round of the BTCC at Brands Hatch. We have been fans of Tom since we first met him 4 years ago and I am sure this win will be the first of many. Well done to the hard working team at Speedworks Motorsport led by the ever enthusiastic Christian Dick.
Similarly, congratulations to Adam Morgan and Wix Racing on their win in race three: Adam has done many laps round Blyton Park. Finally: well done to the Rob Boston Racing team based just down the road from Blyton who had a win and two seconds in the Ginetta GT4 Cup and came away from Brands leading the championship. Clearly there are major benefits from testing your car at this venue!
Finally, you may have read about an elderly circuit owner taking up Rallycross: here is the pictorial proof!
Buy a Mini and join me in October!