Spa Bits and Pieces
Spa has a peculiar effect on cars. Normally rock-solid reliable cars play up when they touch Belgian tarmac, so it seemed appropriate to tell a few stories not covered in the race reports.
Jeremy must be the unluckiest man at Spa. On the way there on the Autoroute, near to Liege, he swerved to avoid a car and the motorhome left the road, ending on its side in the trees. He and Mrs Goodman got out through the windscreen. "There isn't much left of it", he told us. "It's a bonded glass fibre body and when it hits something it separates."
With a written off motorhome which had lifted the trailer up in the air as the tow bar went up, it looked like bad news for the RT3, but in fact despite the angle all was well. It was "just" the issue of getting to Spa. A phone call and Graham Reed and Ollie (Peter Ollson) were in Ollie's Vito and drove from Spa to the accident where they collected the trailer and took it back to Spa - for this effort above and beyond the call of duty they get the Spirit of Spa Award.
Whilst a bit less catastrophic, the troubles continued at the circuit. The scrutineer did a superb job in checking underwear specs and seat belt dates. Jeremy was, however,slightly less than impressed with the overall effciency of scrutineering when he got in the car for qualifying and the belts came away as they had no nuts on them. Obviously, it's better to have in date belts not attached than out of date ones attached....
Then on leaving the garage for race 1 the clutch gave way. Kevin Mason and Simon pitched in to help change it, and it looked like all would be well for Race 2 - until the battery failed despite being charged overnight and he parked at Malmedy. Possibly not a weekend to remember.
Vauxhall Juniors just run and run - I know, I've run one for 10 seasons. So it was a real blow when an ignition amplifier went on Henry Fryer's Junior, sidelining him for the meeting. Even more frustrating was that they tried all the GM dealers in a wide radius to get the part only to be told - frustratingly- that it was available on Monday
Friday was said to be the hottest day at Spa for 30 years, so water was essential. The circuit offered bottles for about €3, but down at Aldi in Malmedy a 2 litre bottle could be had for 30c. Unfortunately some were also tempted by the equally "good value" wine. A Cabernet Sauvignon at €1.69 seemed attractive. I would like to offer a description of it, but I suspect that if you need to use the phrase "gag reflex" when describing wine it probably isn't great.
Avit / Andy Yeomans / Amnon Needham
Ewen is a man who knows the meaning of the word busy. He was running with Andy Yeomans in the Middlesborough Taxi (Toyota Carina). That had a major gearbox problem, which Ewen, Andy and Dermot spent some time trying to fix. Meanwhile, the team were also considering canibalsing the Carina to repair Amnon Needham's Dallara Toyota which had shredded it's main bearings. This, in turn, was especially frustrating as Amnon and Dermot went to the trouble of testing at Mallory immediately prior to Spa. So Avit then fitted in practice in Sara/Ian's Agent, from which he returned on a tow rope and which he welded up.He then fixed Jim Blockley's sidepod mounting which was broken and dropped his ground clearance below 40mm. Jim wouldn't have been allowed to race if the clearance was below 40mm (which in the circumstances shows a remarkably limited understanding of ground effect by the officials). And then he fixed the stub axles of Phil Moore's Dallara. Probably much more besides.
Just Practicing Spa (that's JPS)
Ian Hughes's run of bad luck continued when his car packed up on lap 3 of P1. However, he doesn't need much luck when he has the fortune to be married to Sara who sportingly forfeit her drive to Ian.
As treasurer I agreed with Simon Davey that we should have an eligibility scrutineer. Unfortunately the scrutineer picked me and I stupidly signed the form to say I accepted I was under 40mm. Never admit anything, never sign anything. Next day, we raised up the car and I went faster.
My times were disallowed for session 2. Sadly, the timekeeper was having a bad day and didn't read the instructions properly so ignored both sessions and put me to the back of the grid in both races. The clerk of the course signed the error that was put in front of him without checking it properly. The stewards, when I went to object, had left their room and locked it up. Besides, they can't spell Dallara. It's got 2 "l"'s. And whether the timesheets were posted properly is debatable, since the only way the Mono rep got copies was to prize them out of an official who had a copy in his file. ("Calm down, dear. It's only a non-championship round")
As it happened, I thoroughly enjoyed calling the officials various "extremely complimentary and polite" names into my helmet. I also, in the end, enjoyed starting on the back of the grid and finishing 12th even more. I agreed with Simon to pay for an eligibility scrutineer. I also vetoed his suggestion that we had a trophy for the driver who made up the most places.
I would also like to add that Dallaras aren't all they're cracked up to be. I know I went into Eau Rouge and Blanchimont with my foot planted to the floor. I noticed that in both corners the chassis must flex very badly because when I was on the exit of the corner I was well off the throttle. The chassis must have moved away from my foot.
Kevin started race 2 from the back of the grid having not done P2. He broke a main shaft, but fitted a spare on Friday afternoon. Kevin's inventory of spares is quite something, and includes a spare engine. This may sound excessive, but he does have a record of having built an engine in the Silverstone paddock. However, on this occassion he made use of some of the equally exhaustive range carried by Magic Motorsports, aka the Harrisons.
Steve has changed his F4 Van Diemen for an F4 Van Diemen, but a Formula
Ireland based one. For those who don't frequent the forum (mainly our
hard copy readers) here's what Steve said when I suggested in my report
that his car was the ex-Barry Walker car. Andy Yeomans soon corrected
me to it being the Alan Everitt/Tom Brown car. I then called it "Ferrari
Rosso Corsa". Steve continues: "I wish to join pedants' corner
about the colour of my car. It is Massey Fergusson red not Ferrari red.
Surely anyone could tell that?
As well as the sidepod mounting bracket problem, Jim suffered a misfire from lap 5 in race 2. The engine then went onto 3 cylinders. On inspection it was a broken valve spring cap.
With 3 Dallaras and Jennifer Scott starting from the back, David was quite upset. "This isn't fair. I'm back of the grid on merit." he said.
We hope a "Ligne De Parkinson" will soon appear.
Do Belgians like Queuing?
Despite all these assorted disasters, grumps and troubles did we enjoy it? Would we do it again? Were we still grinning at the prospect of having gone through some of the greatest corners in the world a week or more later? Yes, yes, and yes. Dear Roadbook.be, please can we come back? Promise we'll behave.....
Tony Cotton (pics TC / Hayden Shorthouse)