Issue 16 July 2017


For the Classic and Vintage meeting, we were treated to a pleasantly warm day and an astonishing number of competitors, including most of the world’s remaining supply of pre-war Rileys. I took along a friend who has lived in the area for a considerable period of time but who had never previously been to Harewood. This is depressingly familiar– in the four years we’ve lived here I’ve only encountered one person who’s spectated at Harewood (and that only once). I should add that there seemed to be a good number of spectators at the ‘C & V’ meeting, and judging by the attention some were paying to the map of the track, there were plenty of ‘first timers’.

If we were surprised by the acceleration of some of the historic racers away from the line, then watching them speeding downhill towards the Esses we were even more struck by the level of confidence (or faith?) displayed by the drivers in their spidery vehicles, and especially in their brakes. Not only were most of the cars drum-braked, but as another spectator reminded us, the earliest cars only have them on the rear axle…

Every year I’m reminded that it’s a privilege to see these characterful cars still doing what they were designed to do – compete. However spectating at Quarry at the Jim Thomson the next day – and this is no disrespect to the older cars – I was struck by the corning ability of the modern racing cars. They really do look glued to the track; I haven’t been to watch the F1 cars for donkeys’ years so I guess I’d be amazed by their aerodynamic grip.

Nice to see a couple of new driver/car combinations over the weekend. On both days Les Procter was running his beautiful little Elva Mk 7, getting the measure of the car’s gearbox on Sunday, and Ben Tranter and Rob Spedding were out in a new-fangled OMS.

The event on 1st July was good fun; it was great to see the visitors from the Channel Islands back with us and FTD by an 1100cc machine was a fantastic result. And what do you say about Richard Spedding’s performance on Sunday 2nd? FTD and two second places in the run-offs in a car loaned to him by Les Mutch were truly great results, and it’s a testament to the sport in general (and Les in particular) that such generosity is still present.

I’ve watched the speeds recorded through the trap with interest at the two MSA events this year. I could be wrong but it seems to me that the speeds of the single-seaters have generally been quite a lot lower than in the recent past, whilst those of vehicles in other classes are surprisingly high.

You might remember that in the last issue I remarked on the performance of electric cars at Pikes Peak? As far as I can tell, at the Pikes Peak event on 25th June this year there were no electric cars – but there were several electric racing motorbikes, one of which I believe was built by The University of Nottingham. I have to admit that, whilst I don’t find it too difficult to imagine the successful packaging of an electric powertrain (including the not-so-small matter of the batteries) in a four-wheeled vehicle, a two-wheeler seemed to me a rather different matter, but the web revealed a host of such vehicles that look remarkably similar to their carbon-fuelled cousins. Coming after the news that France is aiming to ban the sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, it’s looking as if the smell of petrol could become as uncommon as that of cigarette smoke!