Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Leyburn Sprints

I’ve been a petrol head ever since I was old enough to see over the dashboard of my father’s Standard Vanguard.
Our Vanguard was a sedan, and an earlier model than this one.

As a teenager, I’d contrive to get myself to circuits like Lowood and Lakeside to race meetings featuring amateurs who were in it for fun, not to make money. I must have been determined, as there was no way in a fit my father would take me, and I had to rely on older (and wealthier) friends and rellies to get me there.
MX5 club waiting to get in.

I even did a stint as a flag marshal, overcoming the fear created by standing with my back to the direction of the cars as was necessary in some positions – usually those occupied by the most junior volunteers who had not established status on the pecking order.
There were some beautiful old cars displayed. This is a Healey 100/4.

Later, when I had my licence and owned a car, I participated in the most rudimentary form of the sport – sprints.
And some ugly ones. This is a Bolwell Ikara.

At the time I owned a VW beetle. Sprinting in a 1200cc beetle? Enough said.

Still, it did teach me how to control oversteer.

Attending the Leyburn Sprints, therefore, is both an exercise in nostalgia and a return to the days when motor racing was a sport instead of a business.
A 1937 Ford Special.
To quote someone who learned about this a long time ago –

"The curse of commercialism is the ruin of every sport and the degeneracy of motor racing as a sport is due to the financial issues now involved in each race - the immense value of victory and the commercial disaster of defeat."

This was not written recently. It was penned by a pioneer British racing driver, Charles Jarrott (b.1877), who went on to say when writing his book Ten Years of Motors and Motor racing, 1896-1906 -  

"I have raced because I love it, but a race of the present today would offer none of the charm which a race of five years ago afforded. It would have none of the sporting feeling or good comradeship between the fellow competitors".

Leyburn exudes charm. You can walk in amongst the cars and talk to the drivers.
MX5s were represented.
The format is simple – one car at a time in order of numbers. The circuit is tight which is a great leveller. Skill becomes as important as power.
I was 15 the last time I saw this racing (Lowood 1962).

A well-driven special is as likely to win as an expensive supercar.
Times are posted as the day goes on

This Cobra crossed the finish line sideways.

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