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Cadwell was cold, so I am led to believe by my trackside photographic companions. Apparently the thermometer plummeted inverse ratio to their increasing apertures which makes for a good moan and one would have been led to believe the fourth ice age was swiftly approaching. Easter dispelled that thought and all was set fair for an Oulton as of last year. However, the Fishs and Charltons of this world had other ideas as they prophesied snow on such a scale that a whiteout was on the cards for Saturday. Friday night did nothing to dispel that notion as sleet and snow darted about the Lodge gates and the gritters were on stand by at the end of the Coach Road. Fortunately the weather gurus maintained their unblemished record of advising exactly the opposite to that which was going to occur and Saturday dawned grey, dryish and snowless. It was not necessary to lower front suspensions another six inches and use the splitters as snow ploughs. It was, however, cold enough for a gun loader on one of Nelson's warships to have muttered about the balls and brass monkies but at least the club was in business.
The Cheshire circuit was the venue for the second of the six club organised meetings for this year and had put together a nine race card. The eighth race was solely for Triumphs. Our club is a broad church and if it moves the organisers to invite other championships to race at our meetings, be it for financial, varietal or reciprocal reasons then all your reporter can say is, right on. (I have been informed by my teenage offspring that this is a term of approbation and is therefore acceptable in modern reportage.)
Practice was delayed as rectification to the Bailey Bridge barriers was required on account of Geoff Bridge finding grip decidedly on not present on the exit of Druids. His car slid gently into a rear fender/armco interface situation which paradoxically caused the latter to come off second best and took roughly forty five minutes to patch up, courtesy of a JCB and several spades. Word amongst the marshals had it that that was the third time that that particular chunk of metalwork had been thumped in the past three weeks and the posts were already loose . . . as a consequence of this hiatus all further practice sessions were reduced to twelve minutes duration and even then for some this was almost insufficient time to complete the requisite three laps.
Lunch was either hectic or leisurely according to the morning's fortunes and with a start time at variance to the programme, the Drayton Manor M.G. Metro Cup cars lined up with the T register Challenge race (all two of them) and three MGAs for race one. Lloyd won from the lights but was earnestly harried by Slack for duration who in turn had Hughes up his boot lid after a bit mid race lack of concentration from the latter. Croft and Grooms exchanged places several times only for the latter to drop away in the later stages finishing fifth and sixth respectively. The body language of Alison Grooms gave her the Oscar for her part in The Most Seriously Aggrieved Driver of the Day' when her Metro called it a day at Fosters! The other race was won by Graham Coles, MGA. Next on the agenda was the Moss Europe BCV8 & Halfords Modified Midgets. Sadly some of the serious heavy metal was missing but nonetheless that which was present didn't disappoint despite the appearance that this was a race that no-one wanted to win as some of the front runners succumbed to mechanical maladies or got tired of running on the black stuff! Hiley led from the off followed by Williams and Stewart but the red car was laying a mist of oil smoke which led to his demise on lap six. Stewart became top dog and collected the silverware with Williams, Hewitt and Pyke following at spaced intervals. It might not have been thus had not Hewitt got a trifle loose on the exit of Old Hall on lap seven and executed a couple of ever so graceful 360: pirouettes on The Avenue grass before gaining the tarmac at Cascades. This car is of course for sale and naturally has never been raced or rallied! The duo of Shannon and Brooker-Carey, first and second of the modmidgets, provided a superb spectacle as they hammered their way through the field to finish five seconds shy of the winner on the road having given him half a minute's start. More is the pity Montague non started as his presence could only have enhanced the action.
With the programme running nicely to time and Mr Sunshine driving the chill off the wind the Anglia Phoenix Challenge cars assembled for race three. The triumvirate of Scothern, Howe and Talbot entered Fosters in that order and so stayed till flag fall in most entertaining fashion. Kettleborough worried away at Brooke for the duration and eventually came out on top moving the F into the top four whilst Ward was only a hiccup away from fifth in a forceful drive from last place on the grid. A bit of red mist obscured Javes' vision in a highly optimistic move on Turner half way through lap two which left him parked up on the exit of Fosters, the rear fender logo reading Metro Maniacs possibly being a little too near the truth.
Once the wreckers had tidied up, the cars contesting the next event Moss Europe classes A & B were sent on their way for ten laps which initially Egar led being followed by Auden and Lambert. By lap four a bit of reshuffling produced a leader board of Lambert, Egar and Auden which remained constant until the finish. Apart from the demotion of Partington on lap ten by two places the order of the field changed not from lap four. Statistics such as this are not only boring but reflect ill on the proximity of the racing. Dent and Banks were seldom a couple of car lengths apart, Valek and Dyer even less so whilst the phrase coat of paint' springs to mind with regard to Holmes and Ivey.
The programme continued with the largest grid of the day contesting the Cockshoot Cup organised by the NW Centre, current holders of the Nuffield Cup. Regrettably the grid of twenty six a second or so after the green light became twenty two as Storer, Hodkinson, Greaves (perhaps wishing his reserve call hadn't been made) and Kesterlain became involved in an imbroglio as a result of a stalled car at the front of the grid. The eventuality could have been much worse but fortunately the red flags were not required. John Hewett won as he pleased in a very rapid machine with Cousin, Ashworth and Richardson ten seconds adrift covered by three seconds. Ivey was the last guy to complete the full distance. Amongst the standard cars Prutton made the most of the confusion at the start moving from seventeenth to ninth in half a mile whilst Bill Hewitt lost two places including the four retirees to eventually end the proceedings in tenth which was a good effort. Throughout the field there were many individual dices which make this championship popular amongst them on t'other side of fence. The unusual sight of an ambulance, blue lights a-flashing, wafting up to Druids on lap none didn't affect the proceedings and by all accounts the call out was purely precautionary and not as a result of necessity.
Another popular series,Road Going Halford Midgets were the next line up with class A Goldsmith & Young Throughbred Championship cars. Lancashire led all ten laps but with Hall ever near in second, Bill couldn't afford to relax. Relaxation was certainly not on the minds of the quintet of Mercer, Duffy, Farman and Pymm whose race long contest was surely scripted by the originators of Action Man. Farman was the agent provocateur, ever looking for the main chance to move up a place, be it on the outside, on the inside over the kerbs and usually in a haze of tyre smoke. Happily it all stayed together and the panel beaters were not troubled. As a finale to keep the men in orange on their mettle, Colman and Mercer ground to a halt on the slowing down lap with the former's car appearing to require a fair amount of attention from the fire crew. It was either that or another flour attack on the chairman of the Conservative Party. Of the G&Y brigade, Ball's DB4 was the combo to lift the laurels.
Goldsmith and Young Championship (class B, C & D) had the grid of race seven all to themselves and was always going to be an Aston benefit for ultimate honours, the surprise being that once poleman Foster was beaten into the first corner by Heyes, that was it. No way by. Korrison eventually passed Wright (TR6) to make an AM 1, 2, 3 by flag fall whilst Conoley and Wright kept the pressure on to ensure that third place was always in doubt to the end. Of the home team Lines' MGA gave Stansfield's E-Type a hard time from lap two, half a second in arrears whilst Shaw's MGA denied the advantage to Bryan's DB4 by the same margin when the pennant came down.
The penultimate race of the afternoon was for the Cox and Buckles TR Register Championship with a healthy grid of fifteen which showed commendable preparation in achieving a 100% finish rate. Wright scored a pole position, lights to flag victory, a healthy seven seconds ahead of a furiously scrapping Hall and Henderson who were a miserly tenth of a second apart at the finish.
As a finale, with the Fosters grandstand almost empty (three people) the two driver pit stop race commenced. Initially the programme listed ten drivers and seven cars. This swelled to twelve and nine respectively by the time the lights went green. Whilst Henderson (TR5) attained the Victor Ludorum it has to be said that in the greyness of the late afternoon the most illuminating occurrence was the MGF flame out on the change up out of Fosters.
Despite the slight drop in the entrants on account of mechanical derangements, competitors moving on and accidents in previous events, the meeting was enjoyable.