The 2011 Tuition and Track Day took place on Saturday 2nd April at Castle Combe Motor Racing Circuit.
This was the first year that the event had been held this early in the year. With the late change to the original date of August being announced just before Christmas, this didn’t leave much time to advertise the change of date and get the entrants booked in. Our friends at the Mini Cooper Register were also uncertain about ticket sales and didn’t pre-book their regular amount.
So with the use of email, we contacted previous years entrants and started to spread the word. The event website was updated and we crossed our fingers for a good response.
The booking forms started to arrive in a steady flow, and we were sold out within two months, just like the original summer date. The interesting thing this year was the array of different car clubs attending and the variety of cars entered. This goes to show that the presence of the event website is attracting interests from many different sources and that non-competitive track days are as popular as ever.
Driving to the circuit early in the morning, Phil Harris, Tim Murray and I drove through a rain shower and the sky turned a very nasty colour. We were concerned that the rain cloud may follow us, but it stayed over Bristol and turned into a thunderstorm, lucky for us. The circuit was a bit damp on arrival but this soon dried off.
Being one of the first events of the Castle Combe calendar, things at the circuit weren’t fully ready for the race season. Historically we have used the Tower building to sign drivers in and release the tickets from. However we arrived to see that it was covered in scaffolding as it was having a face lift and an extension. With a quick change of plan, Phil and Tim set themselves up in the Tavern.
We had a queue for the scrutineering by 8:00am, and more confusion as the scrutineers didn’t arrive until nearly ten past and wanted different paperwork. This lead to the drivers in the queue running back and forth with their slips of paper. But the issues were solved and at 9:00am on the dot, the first batch of cars drove onto the track.
On the day we had 7 entrants from the Mini Cooper Register all but one being a classic shaped Minis. We had three entries from the Volvo Owners Club, not something you would connect with track days. These ranged from the two mid nineties models of the blue Volvo S70R and white 850R, to the wonderful dark blue 2 door 1967 Volvo Amazon 112S. This model however was slightly more powerful than the 4 door model that I sat in the back as a child while my parents towed the family caravan.
Interest from the Westfield Sports Car Club was good and brought a total of 5 entries. There was a complete buffet of the many faces of Westfield type cars. These ranged from four examples of the Westfield SEiW including our own Andy Moss, David Holliday and Nick Wood. The Westfield 130 of Merlin Wigley, plus a Westfield Sport 2000 of Roger Hole. In addition to this we had a Westfield SEi Vauxhall 16v, a Westfield Seight (which I thought was a mis-spelling) and a Westfield ZEi. This moved slightly to the Caterham 7, Caterham 150 Superlight and Caterham 1600K series. Finally we had the obscurely named Robin Hood 2D and Stuart Taylor LocoRage which I must confess I had to Google to find out what they were!
The paddock queuing area sometimes held a completely random picture of the cars entered, when you had a 2003 Ford Focus RS next to a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. Or you could see a 2005 Porsche Boxster next to one of the two Fiat Panda 100bhp next to a classic Triumph, next to the race prepared Peugeot of Paul Bird. After lunch we even had a new Audi RS8 Quattro for one session. This is one of the great things with the Tuition and Track Day. As you are not competing, it doesn’t matter what car you wish to take to the track.
I was also very pleased to see, that after 3 years of being a double car entry and not attending, that the Noble H12 GTO finally made it’s appearance. Hopefully we will see it again in future Tuition and Track Days.
Although the date was moved from August, we still invited the Bristol Hot Rods along for the ‘Hot Rod Show and Lunch Time Parade.’ Looking at the rain at the beginning of the day, I wasn’t expecting any Hot Rods to turn up, but the guys gathered at the Griffin at Bridgeyate mid-morning and drove to the circuit in convoy. Twelve vehicles positioned themselves in the viewing area and all to see. Adrian, the Circuit Manager on the day, has enjoyed the lunch time parade over the last few years and jumped in the course car as the circuit broke for lunch to lead the parade around the circuit.
Behind Adrian was the first of the Hot Rods, the 1952 Austin Devon in bright orange with classic ‘hot wheels’ style air intake poking up through the bonnet. Such a small car with a supercharged 4.6 Rover engine.
We had two ‘Vettes. The first being an absolutely beautiful conditioned 1959 Chevrolet Corvette convertible (C1). This stunning car shone with it’s red and white detail and chrome in the midday sunshine.
This was followed by Ryan Welch’s ’48 Chevy Panel Van. This has been fitted with a Trans-Am front clip and 12-bolt rear axle. The engine is a 305 small-block Chevy with a 350 turbo auto box.
We then had Ivor Knapp’s totally insane homebuilt 3.5 litre V8 Rover powered trike, yes I did say ‘Trike’! With the widest tyres, the trike was wide as it was long. This machine has no gearbox as it’s power was applied through a clutch direct to the rear axle, meaning the speed was controlled by the throttle only.
Oddly enough no-one asked for a ride, as they could see how nuts the machine was. Being a trike, there was less likely hood of falling off, but holding on was a completely different matter. Essential riding gear was full leather, a very good helmet, an exceptional life insurance policy and super glue on your hands!
We then had a lovely example of a 1964 Ford Anglia 1200 Deluxe.
This was together with a plain white Ford Pop’ 100E. From a distance, both appeared complete classic, that was until your eyes caught the amount of rubber in contact with the ground.
The second of the two ‘Vettes was the 1980 Chevrolet Corvette Springray Coupe (C3).
Although not the correct car in make or colour, you couldn’t help looking out for Snowman in the Kenworth semi with the elephant in the back.
We had another visit from the Austin Van A55 Panel Van.
Another new face for this year was the 1934 out and out race style ’34 Ford Coupe.
This nice eco-version with it’s blown hemi under the hood!
Very different to the rest of the pack with it’s ‘angry’ stance.
We also had a return visit from the 1943 Ford Roadster. With it’s 351-powered deuce engine…
… and the 1939 Ford Model A Coupe.
The Ford 351 Cleveland engine has CVH alloy heads, MSD distributor, and B&M C6 auto transmission.
Last but certainly not least, the parade was followed up by the 1964 GMC Suburban which seemed to have the footprint the size of a football pitch yet hold the circuit very well.
The afternoon session started bang on time at 1:30pm, and by 3:45pm we were on extra runs. This continued for the remaining hour until an extra large final batch took to the track for the final session of the day.
The Castle Combe Racing School Instruction of Dave DaCosta was as popular as ever.
He seemed to be either on the track or strapped in the passenger seat waiting to go out for most of the day. I’m sure I saw him jump out of one car as he returned to the paddock to go out again straight away in another. He certainly won the prize for the most track time.
Many thanks to all for another successful day. Thanks to Phil Harris and Tim Murray for their help on the day, and resolving the early morning issues. Many thanks to Adrian and Nicki Fawdington and their team of marshals for their excellent management of the circuit. Thank you to all of the Hot Rod drivers and friends who trusted the weather , and many thanks for all of the entrants & spectators who attended.
This years event certainly shows that the variety of cars that take part highlights that the Tuition and Track Day isn’t just for hard core drivers in their race prepared machines. It’s a non-competitive event for drivers to improve their high speed driving skills in a safe and controlled environment, adjust their cars requirements, or just to have fun.
If you enjoyed this years event or are reading this thinking about attending next year, watch this space, as tickets for the 2012 event will be released at the end of the year.