THIS YEAR the Holsworthy’s Chairmans Trophy Trial was run as a classic car trial rather than a production car trial although the format was very similar to that of previous years and was the first round of the A.S.W.M.C. Classic Car Trials Championship. The entry was very healthy with 34 cars and 13 bikes. On the weekend of the trial the Midget was still, in the garage awaiting major surgery to its axle and gearbox the diagnosis having found out that the cause of the differential failure was due to the axle casing no longer being straight, which was most likely incurred through trying to ‘yump’ up sections with a full boot and petrol tank. A request was therefore made to Dean for the loan of the Buggy the terms being a free engine tune to weedle a few more b.h.p. out of the 1500 engine so that it would at least pull top gear on the open road which was something it could not do when it was used for the FuIford Cup Trial. Saturday was spent carefully checking over and setting up the valve, ignition and carburettor settings and making sure creature comforts were adequate as Jenny would be passengering. Sunday dawned bright and sunny so a pleasant trip was -enjoyed to Holsworthy with the Buggy on the trailer behind the Capri – a much more civilised situation than rattling our way to events in the draughty Midget. An early arrival was made at the Memorial Hall Car Park so there was plenty of time to off load the buggy stow everything in position and have a chat with the other competitors. Looking at the entry list it was interesting to note that there were no eniries for class 4 so using the Buggy meant we would at least be competing competitively. With the sun shining brightly but with the temperature still around freezing point we were flagged away on the 4 mile run to the first special test. The test was laid out on a straight section of private tarmac road and favoured the power boys as it was a flat out sprint from line ‘A’ line ‘B’ and a flat out sprint in reverse gear back to Line ‘A’ Dave Keat demonstrating the power of his big engined Beetle and Lester Keats and Stuart Deacon battling it out in Class 2. The Buggy needed a few more b.h.p. surging out of its 1500cc to be competitive Gary Brenton in the other Buggy making a slow time as his left arm strength was not adequate to stop the gearbox continually jumping out of reverse gear. The first observed section Smallbrook Wood gave an indication of what the day was going to be like as the surface was frozen hard but the top layer broke down rather than becoming glazed with the passage of cars so that every competitor bar one cleaned. The previous year the hill had been a stopper as wet conditions produced an entirely different surface of deep mud.
Section 2 Ivyleaf Meadow was a production car type section with markers laid out in a field and caught quite a few out even though grip was there in plenty, one competitor even managing to break a diff on his Escort. Section 3 & 4 Gardens Terror were cancelled as the approach and exit were completely frozen making it impossible to get to or out of the observed section so it was straight on to special test no.2. Hobbs Choice was laid out in the same manner as on last years Lands End but without the peculiar flag controlled stop and re-start in the middle which was a very questionable method of running a special test. With grip at a maximum there was `no need to reduce tyre Pressures the main problem being judging the speed at which the bend could be taken without charging the bank. Caution being the better part of valour especially as we had explicit instructions from Dean on how to drive the Buggy our time of 9.8 was average. The section continuing on from the special test presented no problems. Hackmarsh was a true classic car trial section of good length and gradient strewn with loose stones with the right weather conditions it would have been a real challenge but due to the vagaries of the weather it only stopped two.
Linton Field was another production trial section marked out in a field, grassy and a steep gradient approached from a tight 90o left. All of class 5 cleaned but there were a sprint ling of failures in the other classes at the top end of the section. Gary Brenton suffering from clutch slip and John White, in the NRS special an amalagam of Vitesse front suspension and chassis plus Mini engine gearbox/sub-frame, failing due to unsuitable gearing as a result of using 15″ wheels.’
The sections in Putshole Woods were adjacent to Linton Field so we had lunch while queueing for our turn. The wait also giving John Clarkson time to cure a water leak on the Gregory Special.
The first section in the woods saw only the A.35, Datsun and Imp Sport failing to pass the observed section ends board but the next section was a different kettle of fish and decided who would be the overall winner after the special test times
were taken into consideration. The section would have been easy enough but a well placed re-start on the steep part two thirds of the way up with a few ruts and tree roots in strategic positions saw everybody struggling although Lester in the Avenger managed to get off the line and put front wheels past the 4
marker to secure the lead in class 2. It looked as if nobody was going to make a get away from the re-start as all of class 3 failed and all class 5 runners in front of us suffered the same fate. The reputation of the Buggy looked to be at stake so some careful planning had to be undertaken to ensure we rose to the occasion! This entailed a close scrutineering of the re-start area to decide on the
best line instructions to Jenny to sit in the back seat as up until now there had been no need for her to move out of the front passenger seat and a reduction in tyre pressures from 18psi which we had been running on throughout the day to to appease the Gods of Trialling. So when we were flagged away from the start line it was a careful drive up to the re-start line and an exact placement as planned for getting away when the flag marshal dropped the flag, although there was no time limit. On the drop of the flag we didn’t let the Buggy down and drove off to clear the section ends boards without any problems rather an anti climax after the struggles we have had with the Midget in the past.
The only other problem that we now had was, we felt, that we had laid down the challenge to Dave Keat in the Beetle who at this stage was running directly behind us. We felt sure that having seen the Buggy clean he would make a do or die attempt and were not disappointed when we witnessed him really attacking the re-start again and again and looked to be on the verge of calling it a day when he found the traction he was looking for and got away to make a successful climb after a very determined attempt. Colin Chidely running straight after Dave also made a good climb and cleared the section ends boards.
Dave swore that it was because he had cleaned the re-start out
for Colin by removing ‘6 tons’ of material with his spinning rear wheels.
So it was ‘3 cleans in a row’ and no more as only John Clarkson
managed to better 5 and see the 4 marker.
After the excitement of Putshole Woods a very pleasant drive was experienced through the pretty hamlets around Hartland enhanced by the frozen streams and ponds. Galsham presented no problems so it was on to Leigh Hill where on the approach down to the section we thought things looked familiar and
realised we were driving down Cutliffe Lane which brought back happy memories of our climbs there past.
Leigh Hill had a dog leg marked out at the start which if wet would have been tricky, but as such only stopped three.
Leigh Woods scene of many a battle in the past – in the Last
Taw and Torridge only Dudley Sterry in the super charged M.G.
and ourselves in the Midget cleaning, – could do nothing to
stop the onslaught of the day and only weeded out 3 competitors
whose cars were not on form.
But the trial finished with a true Classic Trial hill – Crossliegh with a nicely placed re-start making people work hard but not being enough trouble to cause more than 4 failures. A sunny drive saw us at the Red Post cafe for the finish
by half three after experiencing a very pleasant trial which caused us no problems but must have been most frustrating for the organisers who saw the competitors kicking up clouds of dust on quite a few sections when at this time of year they should have been wallowing in the mud.
Results were soon compiled and announced by Roger Pole
Secretary of the meeting; Dave Keat continuing his run of success and taking the Chairmans Trophy Lester keeping one up on Stuart and ourselves receiving a very handsome newly awarded trophy for being the best rear engined car not in the same class as the overall winner. An added bonus being that we were allowed to take it with us providing it was given back for engraving prior to the Dinner/dance where it would be presented
Below a few photos of the Trial. Linton Field and Paul Doble Skoda and John Ralph VW Beetle at Putshole Woods
Click on image to enlarge