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Race Retro, Stoneleigh Park, 22-24 February 2013

Good Vibrations

It isn't often I begin with a quote from an Institute of Chartered Accountants website: "The latest ICAEW/Grant Thornton UK Business Confidence Monitor shows that business confidence has improved significantly in the first quarter of 2013". Well, as somebody who holds his professional body in the same awe and respect I usually reserve for the MSA, I'm amazed to agree with them, but after Friday, I do. Race Retro is the show for the backbone of motorsport. The people who pay for it themselves, don't winge about how difficult it is to get sponsors beacuse they don't have them, don't really care what sort of stupid watch Jenson Button wears (it's actually less stupid than most of them), and think that motorsport history began in the century before the last one. Oh yes, and they do motorsport BECAUSE THEY ENJOY IT. They're usually, with respect to those of our members who aren't, over 40 because they can then afford to do what they fancy. Whether that's somebody like me with a cheap and cheerful FVJ or somebody with a Maserati 250F, it's what you can afford and what you like. And these people were out in force on Friday, not just looking but talking and taking an interest. It wasn't just the Mono stand that thought this, others thought the same. As a result, there was a buzz around the place and a very happy atmosphere. Business, and therefore club motorsport, confidence has improved, and things are looking good.

Having clicked on a link claiming to report from RR, you might ask what was there. I'm getting to it. They have "featured marques" each year, and this year it was Lotus, Alpine and Imps. (What is the link between these names? Please post your answers on the forum - there's a prize.) Lotus is very well known and the cars are beautiful, but to be honest the ones on show, and the lovely transporter, are pretty well known to the show regular or attender at Classic events. What was new and fascinating was a drawing board with Chapman's original general arrangement drawings for the revolutionary stressed monocoque 25. Sadly, they were sensibly protected behind acrylic, which made photography impossible for mortals but you wouldn't tire of looking at them if they were in your lounge. I'm picturing award-winning Steve Griffin going dewy eyed at this point.. Alpines are one of the world's under-rated sports cars, with an early history parallel to Porsche (Renault 4CV rather than Beetle based), and I think they're about to return with a joint venture with Caterham to produce an Elise RipOff a lightweight mid-engined sports car. Everybody has a soft spot for the Imp due to its cute boxy looks and its Mini Bridesmaid role, usually tempered by memories of reliability issues. Quote of a friend of mine who sold an Imp powered Ginetta G15 "You do realise this isn't a car in which you start a journey in contemplation of finishing it." Dermot will be using that line soon. My Imp memories are tempered by headbutting the engine compartment flange of my Mum's and still having the scar 42 years later.

As for Monoposto, we had a great looking stand with cars from Luke Rosewell (Ray FF96), Russ Giles (Dallara F398) and Derek Seward (Seward F1010, as driven by Christian Parker). The boards were new and looked very good indeed, having been updated by marketing guru, Jonathan Baggott, and received unsolicited praise for their informative nature and excellent design. On Friday, the stand was busy with old friends, potential new, long term members, people who might do the odd race with us and one chap who mystified Simon by saying "Aaaah, you're a bit like the Monoposto Club aren't you?" Thanks to stand volunteers David Cox, Jim Blockley, Jonathan Baggott, Simon Davey, Dave Parkinson, Russ Giles, Nick Harrison, Doug McLay and Sarah Harvey-Fern. If I've missed anybody, sorry.

Disclaimer: In the following photographs, I have described the cars as if they are what they purport to represent. Some may well be replicas, built from a similar model in recent years.

Ray, Dallara and Seward on the stand. Our stand presentation was as good as anybody's.
Jim and Simon converse while David speaks to a visitor
A feature of the Seward which caused much interest was its innovative "Lancaster Link" suspension, which involves very short swing axle lengths and anti-dive / anti-squat geometry.
Andy Waters was there and spoke encouragingly of tests with Tony Bishop's Dallara. Together with a possible return of an exciting driver we haven't seen for a year. As well as his Lotus he showed an arrive-and-drive Formula Renault with Mono sticker.
Rob Manger of Powervamp, currently offering "even better than show" prices to Mono members.
When I asked for a photo, Stuart Turner said "why do you want my picture?". Mini, Escort, Sierra Cosworth, making Ford synonymous in many minds with rallying - enough reasons? 'cos I can do loads more....
I'm old enough to remember when Marcus Pye was young. Compared with me he still is.
Tiff Needell was promoting Thruxton, and his autobiography. I think this is the original Lotus 69 he won in an Autsport competition which set his career off. He was a real pro, and was utterly charming when asked to pose with his car. Well lit, it looks like it's outside in the summer.
A slightly older FF Lotus, the 61, was on the Midland Automobile Club stand as their contribution to "Theme Lotus"
Classic Team Lotus showed a 25 Climax as well as the GA drawings for it
Moss ran his 18 with no side panels to win at Monaco. The great man himself enthralled crowds with his usual stories on Saturday.
KPU396C was Chapman's road car until he crashed it.The insurance money paid for rebuild to a Group 5 racer, driven by Jim Clark, Peter Arundell, Jackie Oliver, John Miles and Jackie Ickx. "Please can I take it home?" - not my line but that of Lotus enthusiast and doyen of motorsport photographers Jeff Bloxham.
The Chrysler/Talbot Sunbeam Lotus used a 150bhp 2 litre Lotus Esprit/Elite type engine. Still a thriving enthusuiasts club for them. A pocket rocket of its day, these days a Golf diesel has 150 bhp and more.
Smaller Chrysler / Talbot Sunbeams used Imp engines. This is Rosemary Smith's rally Imp She won the Tulip Rally in an Imp, the Michelle Mouton of her day.
Bill McGovern's Bevan Imp was a popular competitor in 1970's Touring Car races
Also featuring was the Alpine in its many developments. Alpine were also responsible for single seaters, but I didn't see any at the show.
South Hants Model Auto Club had models, mainly 1/43, lovingly constructed. Here's an Alpine.
Many remember the Tricentrol Special Saloon Championship. Here is Mick Hill's Templar Tillers VW Beetle. Templar Tillers were a sort of rotavator, popular in the 70's with GQT types.
The "back seat" of the "Beetle" contains a 5 litre Chevy. Car was originally based on a Trojan F5000 car, ie a production McLaren F5000, so this is probably a replica as the original Trojan bits will perhaps have gone back to a single seater? Anyway, it was lovely to see it.
Motul XJS's run by Walkinshaw were another big brutal V-engined solution to speed. 30 years later, they still look purposeful.
Where would Race Retro be without an E-Type, made just down the road at Browns Lane.
Douglas Wilson-Spratt designed the aluminium bodied WSM MGB on the MG Car Club stand
MG enthusiasts will either drool or be horrified at the Frontline Developments Abingdon-built MGB LE50. Beautifully finished, from almost entirely new parts, it costs £50k or so.
Power is from a 215bhp 2 litre Mazda (Duratec?) engine with 6 speed gearbox. A sort of MX5GB GT? But why not, it apparently gives a 5 sec 0-60, will be reliable, and looks as good as the MGB always did.
Here's another MG. I had an MG Metro, but it had a parcel shelf where this V64V engine appears below the hatch.
These MG Maestros were on the British Racing Mechanics Club stand. The one on the right said "London to Capetown" on its window, presumably driving as the air freight would cost much more than the car.
The Maestro is an unlikely competition car, though maybe not as unlikely as the 1964 Toyota Corona. I remember these coming out as a child. My, how we chuckled at the Japanese car industry.
Citroen DS's have potentially huge ground clearance and are sturdy, if a little mechanically odd. They make an interesting long distance rally car
As does the Rover 2000, in relatively standard trim here. Although for sale, the owner had a huge affection for its rugged but modern build.
Trials are a peculiarly British invention and this Cannon was on the Historic Sporting Trials Association stand.
As was this "patinated" (polite for scruffy) Ford Prefect E93A based model.
A company who normally work on XK's were building a "unitary construction" version of an Austin 7 with the aim of stiffening it enormously - a strong bulkead and a folded floor.
Aaah, Crosthwaite and Gardner. Leaving their delightful Type 2 VW Transporter in the car park - many a show would happily have it as a star exhibit - they showed their new build Maserati engine...
...various off the shelf D-Type components....
...and a pre-restoration Lotus 19 Climax. All jaw dropping stuff, though I fear if you have to ask the price you can't afford it. It's still great that companies like this are around.
Oxford Universities Motorsport Foundation had a stripped shell of a Riley 1.5 which for inexplicable reasons they covered in stickers.
An older and prettier Riley
The Trident Iceni hails from Norfolk. Very wiiiiide, but rather handsome, it is a 6.6 litre, 395-660bhp, up to 1050ftlb torque, GM Duramax diesel powered sports car. A 2000 mile range on one tank gives this individualist car a unique selling point.
Didn't ask the price, but I thought Ferrari 458 and more....until told it was £96-£135k. As supercars go, quite a snip! Don't knock the fact that it has an engine also used in a truck. So does the Dodge Viper.
AC Greyhound was an elegant sports coupe of the 50's
Turner Sports Cars were made at Pendeford Airport in Wolverhampton, previously at a Smithy in Seisdon near Wolverhampton. Jack Turner produced his own engine, and made F2 and F3 cars, the latter for Don Truman who in later years was MSA Steward at SUNBAC Mono meetings.
Turrani Wheels had this Triumph 650 powered Formula 4 Vixen, designed and built by the Bottoms family. (Do not, as I did, Google Vixen Bottoms). Light and pretty, I'm not sure I would fancy any sort of contact with a barrier, or indeed a crisp packet.
Car was developed into a successful Imp powered circuit racer and hillclimb car, the latter driven by hillclimb and sprint champion (not in a Vixen) David Franklin.
If the Vixen has your legs in front of the wheels, this Techno F3 1000cc virtually has your backside ahead of the wheels. Techno also did a car which folded up in the middle, deliberately.
Crossle 100cc F3 was a bit more conventional, and very pretty. We may see our own Jims Timms and Blockley in screamer F3s this year.
Remember the Bond 3 wheelers? Laurie Bond also made this neat Formula Junior car
The Tec-Mec was intended as a Maserati 250F taken to the next level. Excellent though it was, the rear engined revolution made it obsolete overnight. Still good looking, mind.
How could anybody not like the Dellow, a multipurpose trials car and sports car from Alvechurch? 250 of the 350 made survive, said the enthusiast who owns this one.
I know nothing of bikes. This is a TRIBSA. I think Denis Jenkinson rode one but his looked like a compost heap.
Cute little Triumph. Few realise that Triumph bikes are related to the old Triumph Adler typewriters, and that isn't one of my misleading windups.
Memorabilia on sale included this accident damaged BTCC Honda bumper. Surprisingly there seems to be little demand for accident damaged Mono bits.

The Beijing to Shanghai Classic Car rally was an unusual exhibitor.


Sywell Classic Pistons and Props had "Whistling Billy", a 1904 White Steamcar racer. Utterly mad, I love it. We need a class for steam powered racers in Mono.
A posh ornament stall had this model of a GeeBee racer.The GeeBee was an 800bhp 22litre Pratt & Whitney radial with a couple of wings attached. It crashed 3 times, killing 2 pilots. It needed somebody of the calibre of Jimmy Doolittle to do it justice; he won races with it. He was the man who flew a B25 from an aircraft carrier to bomb Japan in 1941.
After the succcess of the new Morgan 3-wheeler an Austin Healey / Reliant joint venture was announced.
There really were Good Vibrations around the show.

Walking round the show, I kept thinking that a show like this could only happen in Britain. It's a tribute to enthusiasm, obsession, eccentricty, devotion and fun. Long may the show and its spirit continue.

Words and pictures by Tony Cotton. Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys. Please email factual (wrong car identification etc) errors to editor.

Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover. Subheadlines and captions are not originated from the named author. We are unable to reproduce results due to copyright reasons. If any pictures are copyright and the owner wishes them removed please email us.