Mallory Park Non-Championship Motors TV Meeting 16 May
This was a race which nearly didn't happen. The cameras attracted some, a race at Mallory (always a favourite with Mono drivers) attracted others. But with 17 entries, Motors TV hoped for more. At 9.30, there was no electric power, and it was in short supply all day with some reliance on batteries and generators. Fortunately Motors TV were rewrded with 2 cracking races to show, and nobody was disappointed as far as I could see.
The debate was always going to be Chris Woodhouse in the Speads or Jeremy Timms in the Dallara. Both champions unacustomed to error, would it be a light car or a sophisticated one? In the event Chris had pole by a surprising margin of 0.94s - well inside the record. Not far behind, Chris Vinall had come back from semi-retirement for third, with Amnon Needham in fourth in his Dallara 394. Then came Malcolm Scott in his Handigman. What? Actually, it's the familar RF01 Van Diemen but I imagine his handwriting is like mine and somebody misread it. Amusingly, the commentators called it a Handigman, so I think I'll call my FVJ a Ferarri and see if they call it that. A mere 0.06 seconds behind Malcolm was Mono's Mr Cool, Jeremy Goodman, showing that one of his herd of RT3's can keep pace with much more modern chassis. A second from Jeremy was fellow ex-speed eventer Tim Cameron in son Arty's Jedi, treating a borrowed car with the sensitivity and respect one would expect. Besides, he thought the dampers needed a bit of adjustment, describing practice as "like Alton Towers without the bar being put down". Geoff Fern came out in the JKS Hayabusa and I think he later became the first person to complete a race in a true Mono 1400, so make a note of that for the Christmas Quiz.
Joe Venor returned with his Lola T644, looking a little bit darty to some observers. In fact, the bumps into Gerards caught out a few chassis, Geoff Fern's JKS looking more difficult than Chris Woodhouse's.
Due to the power loss,the race was started by the Union Flag after 2 laps behind the pace car. Once the Mini Clubman pulled off at the old short circuit join, Chris Woodhouse, Jeremy Timms and Chris Vinall launched themselves while Amnon held back. It looked as though he was searching in vain for the lights, though this could just be an optical illusiuon. After a short delay the whole field was off.
At the front, Chris and Jeremy both beat the class records and drove almost perfectly. In fact, Jeremy later said "doesn't that man ever make any mistakes?", because the distance between them was constant until Jeremy had a bit of an opposite lock moment at the hairpin, and that gave Chris a buffer he held to the end of the race. The moment was caused by having to use 1st due to the Dallara having been set up with an Anglesey second.
Chris Vinall was a little slower than the leading duo and initially led Amnon by 6 seconds until the latter closed in the final laps. In those same final laps Malcolm Scott who had been on Amnon's tail for much of the race dropped back a little. Final unlapped runner was Jeremy Goodman, the RT3 this time retaining all wheels.
It seems odd to think of Geoff Fern as lapped, but it happened. Behind him were 2 further Family Team Scott runners, Jennifer Scott and Oliver Sirrell. Despite this, there was little quarter given in some close and exciting dicing. Len Turner (Jedi) and URS RF83 refugee Malcolm Cook, having fixed the annoying plug lead which cost him time at Thruxton, were insperable for the race, showing how Mono can bring together for good racing two very different design concepts.
We were surprised to see Jim Timms finish 12th, but he has just returned from a fairly significant shoulder op. And if his surgeon is reading this, it's a quite different Jim Timms... Simon Lonnergan, rejoining after racing with us a few years ago, re-recruited thanks to Lou Watts and bearing interesting sponsorship, spun his ex-Nick Rudd FVL at the hairpin, and was avoided by all, much to his and everybody else's relief. And finally, the Lola Twins Joe Venor and Eddie Guest showed that even in the final two places you still get a good, close enjoyable race in Mono.
There are too many repeats on TV these days. That's what Jeremy Timms must have thought at the end of a race where he was a constant distance behind poleman Chris Woodhouse and just had no way to pass. Two perfect drives were a great advertisement for Mono on TV. At least they would have been if TV was showing them.....because you might have noticed that Tim Cameron wasn't mentioned in the race 1 report. He dropped out with a broken diff, which we assumed was the end of the day for him. Fortunately they carry spares, and Motors TV missed some superb reality TV drama as Afghanistan veteran helicopter engineer Dave Cameron combined incredible calm with methodical mechanical work to get the car back on track with literally seconds to spare. And also run a Peugeot in the saloon races.
Tim started from the back and passed several cars until he came upon Oliver Sirrell on lap. Oliver had been resuming the family argument with Jennifer, which she won. Which left Tim to attack Oliver. And rightly, he didn't like it. He defended. And defended, and defended. Tim and Oliver ran together from lap 4 to lap 7, and on each lap Tim tried to pass Oliver at Gerards, but Oliver defended, cleanly and effectively. Then on lap 8 Tim dummied the same way as before and as Oliver defended, Tim sneaked through on the other side. Sneaked, as in they ran side by side from about Gerards entry to the Esses exit. It all added to the fun for spectators as Oliver didn't let go and clung like a limpet to the Malvern farmer and Morgan restorer's Jedi. It ended on the last lap as Oliver tried a brave manouvre into Shaw's hairpin, slightly misjudginging it and clouting the Jedi wheel. There are those (including your scribe) who will say that Jedis are not as substantial as an FF built to a heavy minimum weight. Don't believe it. Poor Oliver ended in the Leicestershire kitty litter with a deranged wheel and Tim was oblivious to the incident. As a nice gesture, Oliver came over to make sure that all was well with Tim and hands were shaken, such is Mono..
And so with flawless genius at the front and two terriers in a bag in midfield, I'm afraid we forgot to look at anything else in the race. The TSL results are here
Did it work?
After the race, Magnus Laird said that there were 170 entrants which at £300 was £51,000, and they needed (I think) 200 to break even. So if it didn't work out for the organisers, did it work for TV? Coverage was said to be of very high quality - it's the same team that does hillclimbs, so no suprise there - and watching the big screen it looked exciting. I've seen the coverage on DVD and it's brilliant. Perhaps a few statements in the commentary some insiders wouldn't make, but overall a superb job. Whether somebody zapping from Monaco to Mallory would be impressed I can't say. But looking round the paddock everybody seemed happy, the meeting was, especially considering the lack of volts, superbly run, the rolling starts worked reasonably well and even better there was sparkly wine squirting ( a reasonable Cava, we think) at the end. So yes, in the view of this writer, it worked, and hopefully will do so again.
Chris Woodhouse leads Jeremy Timms
Malcolm Scott's "Handigman"
Malcolm Cook's RF83
Tim Cameron withdraws from race 1...
...with a broken diff....
...repaired by son David.