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21st June 2007

A Wonderful Weekend with the FISC Euro Tour

Some 6 years ago I was persuaded to give up hillclimbing and have a go at racing. It took several seasons to get the hang of driving quickly in traffic, and frankly it is very clear that I do not have the killer instinct nor the skill to ever be good at it. Living in the UK means that we have a great variety of tracks to race on and great clubs such as the MGCC and others who kindly organise the races, but as with so many things entry fees have been steadily rising. When I was lucky enough to get an entry for Pieter Bakker’s FISC Euro Tour series I jumped at it particularly as it meant the chance to race at Monza, Zandvoort and the Nordschleife. FISC Euro Tour was originally organised for MG Midgets and AH Sprites, but Pieter is hoping to expand the entry to include other makes and bigger cars as this will increase entry numbers, but decrease membershipfees.

The first event took place at Zandvoort. We decided to get the ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland which is more expensive than driving from Calais but much more comfortable and saves 400 driving miles. The weekend programme comprised 3 half hour races with 30 minutes of qualifying and up to three subsidised familiarisation session, so plenty of track time. Susie, my long suffering wife, kindly gave up her garden for the weekend to support me, but in the end she really enjoyed it all particularly as it was both dry and sunny. We arrived on Friday in good time to enter for 2 half hour afternoon sessions which were invaluable because I had never been there before. The Zandvoort track has been considerably altered since its hay-day in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s when it was a regular GP venue, but now at the back of the old circuit there is a new housing development, with the usual whingeing about noise. However the new track is as good if not better than any UK Circuit with! plenty of blind brows and dips and at least 3 really fast corners, one of which Scheivak is as challenging as Eau Rouge or Paddock Hill Bend. The other slower corners are very technical and the long start/finish straight a great place to extend the car. In all, the people who planned the alterations to the old circuit have done a really great job. After a couple of half hour sessions, I felt more confident that I had some idea of how to drive it, so Susie and I concentrated on getting the car ready for a very busy Saturday. Pieter arranges everything in-house so scrutineering and signing on are painless and he also lends transponders thereby making the whole administrative process very easy. In addition there is a team of mechanics on hand who help with repairs and provide spares for the BMC A Series cars. They were a bit short of TR bits, but luckily we did not need them.

Pieter has a large tent which attaches to the catering wagon, so as well as breakfast every day, an excellent dinner is also served by his team of cheerful volunteers. The very tasty food is washed down with unlimited quantities of Dutch beer and copious amounts of wine; all part of the deal. A very jolly evening followed, with John Davis from the TR race series and others, after which Susie and I retired to our sea-side hotel whilst the hardier souls returned to their tents.

Next day, Saturday, we had 30 mins qualifying and 2 half hour races. Briefing by a very cheery Clerk of the Course displayed an iron fist inside the velvet glove; we were to behave!! My car has a huge advantage over the smaller sports cars, so not surprisingly I ended up on pole. After a light lunch we marshalled in the paddock before the rolling start. I got this wrong following the pace car through the last bend at what seemed quite high speed, when I should have held back and let him get away, but all was well and we rushed into the first corner, Tarzan, with me slightly ahead. After 2 laps I was beginning to relax only to find a very hard driven Sprite right on my tail so for the remaining laps I had to push quite a bit. The real race was behind me, a tight fight between Peter Hiley, David Gibson and our organiser Pieter Bakker who were all having a real go. After the finish we were escorted to the podium for the prize giving with National Anthems etc. I waved my cu! p and flowers to my adoring fans (5 marshals and my wife) from the same podium, which had seen Jim Clark and other real heroes from the ‘60’s. A great moment to tell the grandchildren about; I am sure they will love it!!

The next race was much the same as was the prize-giving, by which time Susie was getting rather embarrassed by my huge advantage in engine size so we decided for the morrow to let others have their podium moment. Another good evening enjoying Pieter’s hospitality and on to the last day which was a more relaxed affair, there being one half hour race before mid day. There was a real ding dong battle behind me with at least 4 Sprigets fighting for supremacy. On lap eight Pieter Bakker went off at the daunting Scheivak and went miles into the gravel trap, neither car nor driver being hurt. On the last lap I slowed to let the first 3 pass me for their well earned podiums. Afterwards Susie told me that had there been champagne rather than flowers she would have been less keen on this move! Finally a really nice prize giving for the FISC Euro Tour competitors.

During the afternoon I watched some excellent racing and later we made a gentle start to drive the 50 miles back to The Hook of Holland for the 10 o’clock ferry. We arrived 3 hours early but were soon on board for a huge dinner and an early night. We docked at 06:30 and apart from the usual crawl round the M25 got home to Exmoor in good time. Pieter Bakker has got something really special going and we all had a fantastic weekend for the incredible price of £5.66 per racing minute not the usual £11+ it costs in UK. Could this be the future of club racing?

Hugh Maund

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