Over the weekend the Vintage Sports-Car Club organised two very different events, a race meeting at Mallory Park on Saturday and then driving tests on Sunday at Madresfield Court. I was on both sides of the fence if you like, as I was an official of the meeting on Saturday and competing on Sunday.
First of all the race meeting. Mallory Park is a lovely venue that has a short track in picturesque surroundings, a taste of which can be seen below in the photo taken by John Hallet Photography. In recent years, it was nearly lost as a motorsport venue thanks to complaints about noise. Normally I’d be the first to say don’t buy a house next to a circuit and then complain, but the situation at Mallory was a little more complicated with the old circuit operators pushing the boundary rather more than was fair, especially as the locals had generally been supportive of the venue in the past.
The circuit now has new operators who stick to the noise limits put in place. Luckily they are allowed one unsilenced meeting for cars and so the VSCC was a ‘noisy’ meeting, albeit with an hour of absolute silence over the lunch break. One of the races that generated a buzz ahead of the weekend was the Edwardian Handicap race. A handicap race is where the slowest cars start at the front, the quickest at the back and they leave the grid in groups with a short delay (normally a maximum of 20 seconds) between each group. If the handicappers have got the groups and delays right, then the idea is every one should more or less cross the line together. In this case, roughly 2 seconds separated the first 5 cars, with the winner staying ahead of two much faster cars by just 0.19 seconds.
There’s a great mix of cars at these meeting from the behemoth Edwardians, to standard vintage cars, to little 500s and Formula Juniors in our invited grids. As an official I don’t actually see that much of the racing as you are listening to reports coming into race control of what’s happening on track, talking to drivers who may have infringed some kind of rule when they’ve been out on track, signing and organising paperwork and all sorts of other things. One of the nice things about Mallory is you can see a lot of the track from race control so I did see more racing than normal even though I still didn’t see much.
Sunday was an entirely more relaxed affair. Driving tests can vary in their difficulty but Madresfield consisted of 5 tests that were relatively simple. A sample of the instructions would be:
Start with your front wheels on line A. Go forward to stop astride DD, reverse to straddle lines bb and BB, forward to stop astride line CC and reverse to straddle bbBB. Then forward to cross DD but stop before EE.
Madresfield usually has a bit of a garden party atmosphere. This year started cloudy but dry and warm, unfortunately it soon started to rain and competitors and marshals soon ended up looking a bit soggy. Fortunately our marshals are a hardy bunch and we carried on regardless. Certainly everyone still seemed to be smiling at the end of the day, not least of all another lady driving in my class who was very very pleased to receive a third class award when the results were announced.
Again this event, whilst a smaller entry that normal, provided a great mix of cars, from the humble Austin 7s to the large Mercedes below. All in all a fun if damp day and it was nice to be competing rather than officiating for a change.