After a short summer break the ‘Sprite and Midget Circus’ was back in action in the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge, this time at the HSCC organised Nostalgia Festival at the Croft Circuit in Darlington. Our race and qualifying was on the Sunday and despite this being ‘well up north’ for most competitors, and well over 6 hours travelling time for some,
it was heart warming to find that we had 25 entries with all the regulars here, many taking in the whole weekend to do some testing on the Friday.
The usual class A runners included Paul Sibley, James Dunkley, Martin Morris, Ed Reeve and David Weston with Class B runners Dean Stanton, Dominic Mooney, Carl Chadwick and father and son duo Andrew and Chris Southcott. Class D had Neil Cameron, Nigel Lackford, John Bridge, John Tewson, David Jenkins, who was lost and bewildered at being this far North and a returning Edward Easton who you will recall had that major accident at Mallory at the start of the season. He had a brand new mount in the form of a shiny red Midget only finished by the Lackford boys a day or so before the meeting. Class E, and Robin Lackford, Ian Burgin, with borrowed engine after Silverstone, Andrew McGee, John Hilberry, Richard Perry, Neville Laskey, Richard Homer and Tim Storrar out in Pippa Cow’s Midget courtesy of Gil Duffy. Finally we had the lone Class C entry from Adam Chaplin.
So, one of the largest fields of the day took to the track for qualifying and it wasn’t long before Sibley got to grips with the circuit to post pole position once again.
Reeve was next up with Lackford R the first of the Class E runners much to his incredulity feeling his season long misfire thwarted his pace. Stanton came next ahead of Storrar who had gone well completing the top ten. Mooney next up ahead of first Class D runner Neil Cameron who just pipped Lackford N and Burgin. McGee headed Hilberry and Bridge before Chadwick, Chaplin, Tewson, Laskey, Perry with issues, Easton, Homer and Jenkins.
Only two cars came back on the end of a rope, those of Tewson minus exhaust and Perry whose issue was a selector pin falling out in his gearbox.
We had a long wait before our race and it gave plenty of time for everyone to correct issues, watch the racing, enjoy the nostalgia displays, including an active Sherman tank, and a superb flying display by that iconic 50’s bomber the Avro Vulcan in its last year of flying.
This meeting was so well attended by everyone that even though he wasn’t entered Richard Wildman was here and giving John Tewson a hand to sort out a few things. Dave Weston had chipped a gear but thankfully found the loose bit in his gearbox, Richard Perry sorted his selector pins and Robin Lackford replaced a broken rocker he had discovered. Eventually the time for the race came and everyone completed the green flag lap. As the lights flashed to start the race it was Sibley who shot straight into the lead with Dunkley slotting into second.
By the next lap Sibley had quite a lead. Perry had already made great progress and was already ahead of Chadwick in eighth. Cameron was being harassed by Burgin who unfortunately retired mid distance with oil and water gauges off the dials! We had lost Laskey, and Tewson came through to retire with that exhaust dragging behind.
Storrar was being harassed by McGee and his heart must have been in his mouth as he overcooked it out of the complex and speared towards the barrier on the inside. He must have had both feet on the brake pedal as the car just kissed the barrier losing a headlight, fortunately Gil wasn’t around to see it!!
There was a great tail end battle between Easton, Homer and Jenkins. Easton was delighted to make the finish line, after an 18 month drought and the hard work everyone had put in!
Perry had got up to Reeve who was just behind Lackford and he would dice hard with Lackford as Reeve got ahead, the two swapping places several times until Lackford retired with engine problems.
Southcott A was pushing his offspring and got ahead. Up front Morris was catching Weston and got in front, these two were hauling in Dunkley who was slowing with a brake problem. Southcott C was coming back at his Dad but just overcooked it leaving the hairpin spinning a double 360 degrees, getting going again with only Reeve getting through.
It was a spectacular end to an enthralling race, the usual battles going on throughout, something that was noticed by the lady from the HSCC I spoke to..
Sibley took the flag well ahead of Dunkley, Weston and a recovered Morris. Southcott A was next from Reeve and Southcott C. Perry came through well from an impressive Stanton. Cameron won Class D from Lackford N with Hilberry and a recovered Storrar ahead of McGee, the ever improving Bridge, Chadwick who had somehow dropped back, Chaplin, Easton, Homer and Jenkins.
Next time Oulton Park, look forward to that one!! Scoops Momentous Moment : That last corner skirmish, great photos!!!