The Historic Sports Car Club’s 2020 season got underway with big grids and fine racing on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit during the Legends of Brands Super Prix meeting (11/12 July).
Three months later than planned due to COVID-19, the HSCC racing started on one of Europe’s finest race tracks with a full weekend of racing and over 330 entries. The event ran in strict adherence to government and Motorsport UK guidelines and required a huge effort from many people to make it possible.
The big headline was a remarkable performance from Cam Jackson to win five races in three cars. His bid to make it six wins was thwarted when the last race of the weekend, the second Historic Formula Ford race, unfortunately had to be cancelled due to lack of time after some major delays due to incidents earlier in Sunday’s programme.
Michael Lyons stormed to victory in the opening Aurora Trophy race on Saturday after charging from the back of the grid. He was forced to take over the Eagle FA74 of mum Judy for the race after a qualifying tangle with a spinning car eliminated his Lola T400. Initially James Hagan rocketed his F1 Hesketh 308 into the lead from Mark Hazell’s Formula 2 March 782, as Lyons carved his way up the order in fine style. He caught the ex-James Hunt car mid-race and Hagan offered a spirited defence but Lyons was able to squeeze ahead and take a resounding win.
Hazell and Rob Wheldon (March 762) had a big contest for second and only late in the race did LMP3 racer Wheldon nip ahead to make the 13-hour drive from testing at Paul Ricard worthwhile. In the concurrent Classic F3 contest, Andrew Smith (March 783) had it all under control until his rear wing started to work loose and he retired to the pits, leaving victory to Benn Tilley in the ex-Rupert Keegan March 743 on loan from Simon Hadfield.
On Sunday, Lyons handed the Eagle back to mum Judy and Hagan was able to claim a well-deserved win despite a dogged chase by Wheldon who battled with a misfire later in the race but retained second while Smith bounced back to claim CF3 spoils from Tilley.
The Guards Trophy race proved to be a real thriller as a mid-race safety car set up a charge to the finish. Ultimately, there was a famous first-time-out win for the Chevron B8 that Westie Mitchell has spent the last two years readying for a return to racing. Initially, Andy Newall (in the ex-Michael Schryver Chevron B6) and Anthony Reid (Lenham P69) battled mightily for the lead in an absorbing contest but both lost ground as the safety car was deployed just as the pit window opened.
Once the race went green Sam Mitchell, in the Chevron started by dad Westie, had a narrow lead but he was being mercilessly hunted by Newall, Greg Caton (in Richard Piper’s Brahma) and Michael Lyons, who took over the Lenham. Once they had worked clear of lapped traffic, they went after Mitchell but, in the face of three renowned hard chargers, Mitchell held on superbly as less than a second and a half split four cars after 40 minutes.
Five more Chevrons packed out the top 10 in a classy field while John Spiers (TVR Griffith) had to work head to hold off the Jaguar E-type of Graeme and James Dodd to top the GT cars as third-placed John Davison headed a strong Lotus Elan pack.
Saturday’s double-headers delivered resounding wins for two of the aces of historic single-seater races. Ben Stiles bounced back from a qualifying tangle to dominate the Classic and Historic FF2000 races while Cam Jackson was peerless in Formula Junior despite a spirited chase by former F3000 racer Mark Shaw in another Brabham.
Stiles made a cautious start in the opener after the rear of the car had been refettled but was soon into his stride and surged clear from a bumper grid. Into second and best of the Historic contenders was Peter Drennan who saw off the similar Reynard SF79 of Brian Morris. In the second race, despite an early safety car while the Royale RP27 of Michael Conway was retrieved from the gravel at Paddock, Stiles won comfortably again from Drennan and Morris.
Jackson started his weekend in his Brabham BT2 in Formula Junior and romped clear in the early laps in both races as Shaw gave chase. The pace of the top two took them clear of the rest of the big field but in their wake, there was some tremendous battling as the Lotus trio of Nick Fennell, Clive Richards and Lee Mowle went wheel-to-wheel. That was how it finished in both races, but the result was always in doubt.
Among the front-engined cars there was a double success for Chris Drake’s Terrier but only after two fine battles with Andrew Hibberd in his dad Michael’s Lola Mk2. In the first race, they traded the lead regularly before Drake nosed ahead by a third of a second at the flag.
To add to his Classic F3 success, Andrew Smith’s prodigious pace in his Formula Atlantic March 79B ensured the opening Historic F2 spoils despite a trip over the Paddock gravel during an early battle with Mark Hazell’s March 782. From a typically good looking grid, Hazell made the early running but retired the ex-Brian Henton car after five laps with gear linkage problems to leave Smith with a clear run to victory. Miles Griffiths (Ralt RT1) finally got the better of David Tomlin (Motul M1) for second while fourth place was a great F2 debut for John Harrison in his immaculate March 742.
On Sunday, Smith again led under pressure from Griffiths but when the March started to misfire Griffiths was able to edge ahead and win as Smith fell back into the clutches of the battling March 782s of Matt Wrigley and Mark Hazell. Smith was caught on the final lap and Wrigley managed to depose him on the dash to the line by two-hundredths of a second with Hazell half a second back.
Dean Forward aced the first Thundersports race in the awesome McLaren M8F despite a persistent misfire as Tony Sinclair headed the chase in the ex-Chris Craft Lola T292. The 8.5-litre McLaren had been slowed by a misfire in qualifying and that continued into the race along with the loss of fourth gear.
Forward held Sinclair at a gap of around 10 seconds while Jonathan Mitchell made impressive progress up from the back of the grid in his Chevron B19 after just one lap of qualifying when the fuel metering unit failed. He deposed category debutant James Claridge (Chevron B23) to claim the final podium place while Mike Fry topped the Sports 2000s in his Lola T86/90 after a strong performance.
In the second race on Sunday Forward fired away in the now healthy McLaren only to tour into the pits after three laps due to a fuel leak. Instead, Sinclair took over but was under unrelenting pressure from Mitchell and after a safety car period the Chevron nipped ahead to score a fine victory after an absorbing contest. Sinclair was only a second and a half down at the flag while Chris Snowdon battled his Tiga to Sports 2000 spoils after a major overnight rebuild following a fire in the opening race.
Jackson was on stunning Formula Ford form on Saturday but had to work very hard to win in Historic FF1600 as Linton Stutely offered a fierce challenge while Matt Wrigley and Danny Stanzl made it a great four-way contest in the early stages. Jackson has a little more breathing space on his way to a double in Classic FF1600 but Rick Morris, Jordan Harrison and Samuel Harrison were never far back as they battled over second and Henry Chart joined them in the second race. In the concurrent Historic F3 content, Ewen Sergison and Simon Armer shared the victories.
Le Mans winner Guy Smith was on target for Historic Touring Car victory from a vast grid until a stuck throttle pitched his Lotus Cortina off at Druids and left the way for Dave Coyne (Ford Mustang) to head the Cortinas of Ollie Taylor and Patrick Shovlin.
Lotus Elans topped both Road Sports races as John Davison (Historic Road Sports) and Jeremy Clark (70s Road Sports) headed big and varied grids. Kevin Kivlochan (AC Cobra) gave chase to his old rival in the Historics while Dave Karaskas (TVR 3000M) and Kivlochan (now in his Morgan Plus 8) offered the main opposition to Clark.