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sorry for the tardy reply but i was unsure of your question.
I decided to stop circuit racing when I reached sixty, not because I was getting any slower but mainly,if I am honest, out of fear. A few years before Len Thompson was killed at Cadwell during the race before mine and then I was involved in the Stanley Mann incident at Donnington where I narrowly missed Bib Graves' body lying on the track and clipped his rolled over Amilcar instead.He was a friend and died a year or two later.Coincidentally the VSCC moved the Spero to Snetterton on the year I approached sixty and that finally made up my mind.So, no I will not be racing again, besides which, racing in my view,involves building up a mental momentum which is neccesary to win and I have lost that totally now. Not that I won that many times.
They are all perfectly good reasons for stopping. Tom and I were talking about the Blue Mouse Stable at the weekend and he (who has his ear to the ground more effectively than me) was telling me that you had reduced your activities as a group. I only asked because I used to enjoy seeing your team's cars, both static and moving.
Location: South-East Surrey
No, I meant winning races, not getting a consolation prize for coming second,third or even third. Austins were there to make up the numbers and when the numbers got too big, remember the years where they had to hold heats to get in, the committee decided to ban the Firestones because they were radials, sin of sins, and the chance for a race for Austin Sevens with a bit of kudos was passed by as many Austins went to race elsewhere.
Winning is winning, crossing the line first. Ask the great Peter Hornby,talking of Zen and tunnel vision, if he was happy with a Voiturette win. He dominated Austin Sevens in the nineties and it was almost heartstopping to watch him racing for the Spero. A win is a win.
Yes, I was one of those who stopped racing with the vscc when they banned radial tyres. I took to the hills and the Bert Hadley Championship. As a tyre engineer I never understood the reason, as you could buy radial construction tyres in 1911. I started using Dunlop R5s a year or two later, but by then the damage was done.
I've heard it said there are two positions in motor racing. First, and nowhere. I think all truly competitive racers would agree with that.
There is a very real difference between R5s and Firestones. Like about £600 a set. I found new R5s better but by the time they were a season old, the benefit had faded some.
I think the vscc were trying to force us to use 3.50x19s but there was nothing suitable at the time. Main problems were there were only motorcycle tyres and those had nothing like enough speed capability. I wrote and told them that. At the time I knew a bit about tyres, and thought I'd put a well reasoned technical case, but to no avail, the committee didn't want to listen.
It wouldn't take much of a brain to work that out. The cost of a set of R5s and new wheels was probably half the value of a lot of racing sevens at the time. I was lucky I got a massive discount from Dunlop because of my work.
Actually it did me a favour. After a while I realised hillclimbing suited me better than circuit racing.
I don't know, but i always thought the committee were getting grief from owners of expensive but pedestrian Bentleys, Bugattis, Nashes and the like, who didn't like getting beaten by Austins. It was disguised as a drive for originality, but it wasn't. Owners of more exotic cars continued to use anachronistic wheel and tyre sizes. Austins weren't fast because of the tyres, they needed the tyres because they were fast. If owners of said exotica had put in the time and effort we did, and you more than any, we wouldn't have had a look in.
Interesting historical observations. Sadly nothing has changed and I decided to cease VSCC racing after Silverstone this year.
Allan, if you have a moment could you email me as I am interested in hillclimbing next year and would Value your advice. Are you by any chance at Prescot this weekend?
Location: N. Oxfordshire
Historical??!!! I lived through it, that's worrying.
Frank, I struggle to answer your question. However, I do think through the 90s and early 2000s there was a definite tightening of eligibility regs and that it was aimed at Austin Sevens. I don't think they would have succeeded with any other car, but because of the demographic of A7 owners they got away with it. I never had a problem, socially within the club, it was just every time I turned up at an event, I felt rather than make it easy they were trying to find ways of stopping me. In the end I voted with my feet. I didn't get that anywhere else. Strange thing is it seemed to be race and speed events only. I competed in rallies and trials and found it completely different.
I found I liked the precision of it. You have to get it right- one mistake blows the whole run. You don't get that in circuit racing.
Is all this business re VSCC circuit racing and the anti-Austin Seven people now history or is it ongoing? Just curious as I haven't been a member of the club for many decades. When I was a member some people were very helpful to me as a young inexperienced competitor.
There was a magazine article some years ago about Frank et al and it had a brilliant picture of the "gearbox wall" in his workshop.