Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge
Round 8 Croft 6/7th August 2016
Words and Pictures by : Phil (Scoop) Broster.
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The first weekend in August saw what has become the annual Croft Nostalgia meeting with racing organised by the HSCC. The Robin Lackford Midget and Sprite Challenge was once again invited to run two rounds of the Championship. With 26 cars entered it was easily the best attended meeting this year with many opting to make a long weekend of it with testing on the Friday.
The entry was in Class A, James Dunkley, David Weston, Martin Morris, Nick Day, Graeme Adams and Andrew McGee who was hoping for better luck this time out as he had been at Silverstone but issues had contrived to keep him out of the race. In Class B we had Steve Collier, Richard Wildman, Carl Chadwick, Peter Kennerley, Andy Southcott and Darren Harman. Class D saw Nigel Lackford, Edd Easton, David Jenkins, Tom Walker, John Tewson, Dean Stanton and John Bridge. Finally Class E had Robin Lackford, Ian Burgin, Pippa Cow, John Hilbery, Neville Laskey, David Morrison and Richard Homer.
Qualifying was to take place late on Saturday evening with both races scheduled for the next day. After a long wait our cars finally took to the track and the session went well for most. The battle for pole was as enthralling as any F1 qualy with Dunkley, Adams and Weston fighting it out, first one then the other was fastest until eventually Dunkley came out on top with Adams and Weston behind, all within seven hundredths of a second. Fourth went to Morris with the fast class E car of Morrison next up ahead of the class B of Collier. Just behind was Southcott from Kennerley, Wildman, Cow and McGee all separated by less than a second.
Burgin, Lackford R. and fastest class D Lackford N were next. Bridge, Stanton, Chadwick, Hilbery and Easton came after them. Tewson, Harman, Laskey, Homer and Jenkins completed the order with Day and Walker not getting chance to post a time, both with electrical issues.
There was a splendid barbeque lined up for later, courtesy of Andy Southcott for which we were all grateful but before that could get underway there were several issues which needed sorting. Weston had a leaking rocker cover gasket, Morris had a catch tank issue, Lackford N had a leaky shock absorber, Tewson was sorting a broken bonnet mounting after a little grass excursion, Walker managed to find a replacement battery, the cause of his issue and Day hoped he had found his ignition problem.
But all would be sorted before the evening barby when many made great efforts to attend in period dress. In my mind the most outstanding were Peter May, Richard Wildman and respective partners dressed as ABBA, very fetching they were too. Martin Morris dressed as a 60’s racer from the set of ‘Grand Prix’ attracted my attention.
Bright and early the next morning everyone was ready and raring to go and the grid formed to await the start. The lights went out and the race to the first corner saw Adams, Dunkley and Weston three abreast as they headed to the chicane at Hawthorne. By there Adams was in the lead with Dunkley just ahead of Weston followed closely by Morris and the fast starting Morrison. Southcott was next from Wildman and Kennerley fighting with Collier. Just behind, Cow lost traction and spun ahead of Chadwick who had made a lot of ground at the start, and Burgin who had the misfortune of running to the outside in avoidance and being badly delayed.
McGee and Lackford R. were next up with Stanton and Lackford N side by side, Tewson, Bridge, Day, Hilbery, Easton, Harman, Walker, Laskey, Jenkins and Homer all scrambled through as Cow recovered and set off after the field.
Next time through the first four were fighting hard with Weston just ahead of Adams, Dunkley and Morris all pulling clear of Morrison who had a gap to Kennerley, Southcott, Wildman and Collier. There was another gap to Chadwick, McGee and Lackford R. before a huge gaggle consisting of Lackford N., Bridge, a recovered Burgin, Walker, Day, a charging Cow, Hilbery, Harman and Easton. There was a tail end battle between Jenkins, Laskey and Homer. We had lost Tewson after a clash with Lackford N., and Hilbery fell foul of a diff failure. Kennerley went with the same problem on lap four, not surprising as I could hear the mechanical pain the cars were going through as they clunked, bounced and ground through the dips in the surface at that chicane.
It wasn’t long before Dunkley found his way to the front, Adams and Weston scrapping for second and swapping places until Adams finally claimed the place through to the flag. Morris had got ahead of Weston but ran a little wide at the first turn, he too would retire with diff/driveshaft failure late in the race.
Meanwhile Chadwick dropped back with a spin after a battle with Lackford R., and that terrific mid field fight was keeping us entertained. Walker would finish only just ahead of Bridge who won out in his battle with Burgin who had recovered so well after that first lap. McGee’s spirited drive ended with tyre failure, Jenkins had a clutch failure which ended his battle. Last to retire was Stanton, overheating on lap 11, after battling with Southcott for a while.
Collier got ahead of Wildman who was fighting understeer and Day was struggling with that intermittent ignition issue returning, just holding off Lackford R by the end.
So at the flag Dunkley was ahead of Adams by over 10 seconds from Adams and Weston. Morrison kept out of all the squabbling to finish fourth well ahead of the Class B cars of Collier and Wildman. Day and Lackford R finished ahead of Southcott and Walker, with Bridge and Burgin close behind. Then Chadwick, Cow, Harman and Easton followed with Laskey and Homer finishing a lap down.
What a terrific race we had witnessed, a great advert for Spridget racing and one which shows the popularity with this series. More to come in race two.