CSCC Swinging 60's: Rockingham July 2015

And so finally I made it to my first CSCC event of 2015. After a variety of issues caused me to miss Snetterton, Silverstone and Brands Hatch. I haven't raced at the Rock since a brief outing in a Mazda MX5 three years ago and before that with the Jags several years earlier.

Rockingham Swinging 60's

PHOTO COURTESY OF ROGER GAGE

It's not my favourite track, more because of its impersonal feel and desolate outer paddock but it does create challenges in terms of how it is driven. I was not expecting too much because although the long straight through turn 1 and down to the hairpin at turn 2 would suit the power of my Mustang the infield would be tricky with so many tight and twisty turns which would suit the smaller much lighter cars including a very rapid Ginetta G4, Lotus 7, TR6, several Healey Sprites and a 1380 cc Mini in some very capable hands.

Those hands were my mate Stewert Lyddall, ex Jaguar racer and professional instructor and so it was no surprise after qually to find myself P10 behind the aforesaid list of cars. Stew's Mini was right in front on me on the 29 car grid.

I was though reasonably happy with the session. Wayne Langridge was once again giving me a hand and after a slight sideways moment due to a heavy right foot as I exited the hairpin on the infield I came in for a tyre pressure check. All was well and so I was soon back out but when the spits and spots of rain turned into a deluge I came straight in. I was never going to register a better time and knowing how poorly my old girl handles in the wet all I risked was a bent car.
Fifth row, on the inside was not a position to start from especially knowing that my rolling start technique has improved quite a lot due to recent practice and so I expected to make up quite a few places and planned to dive down low through turn 1.

That is exactly what happened and as we rounded turn 1 I found myself in P4, which I was more than happy with. I was never going to catch the Ginetta, Lotus and TR6 that were still ahead of me as they were much quicker through the infield and I was too busy keeping the mini and gaggle of Sprites behind me. They were all over my rear bumper as I tried to take a defensive line and hold onto my early gains. For the next three of four laps that was the pattern as the less powerful but more nimble cars struggled to get past my much larger car. I could have some brief respite as we went onto the long main straight and then I would always be caught under brakes at the first hairpin.

As the race progressed and my grip levels reduced proportionally it became a real struggle and the inevitable occurred. The Mini got me at the hairpin and try though I might I could not regain the place even though we would close up on the straight. At some point one of Sprites got me on the infield and then when I got a little sideways again exiting the inner hairpin I decided it was time to do my pitstop.

In Swinging 60's a single driver has to get out, shut the door and get back in. I always loose a bit of time due to having no speedometer and so I'm too careful when judging pit lane speeds. Any gains can easily be lost by attracting a drive through penalty. However Wayne had suggested that we practice the in/out bit and it was well worth it. I was soon back out but once again with no idea about where I was and who I was racing. In such circumstances you just drive as fast as you can and pass/defend as much as you can. I think I have mentioned previously that the Mustang is a very physical car to drive, no power steering or brake servo assistance and so as the race progressed it was getting harder to maintain consistent lap times and then the car developed a slight misfire. All indicators were good: oil pressure, oil and water temp etc. As the chequered flag came out and I began my cool down lap we spluttered to a halt and I realised that the extra bit of fuel, added for luck, was not quite enough to get me back to the paddock.

Embarrassingly I had run out of fuel and so got towed back but other than that no problems for the fourth race in a row and I know I can get fitter. P8 overall was not a bad result either and I think I am going to need to work out what 60km per hour is so I lose less time during time during pit stops.

The next S60's race is Donington Park in September and that will better suit the brute force and ignorance of car and driver. Before that however I will be racing a D type replica at Snetterton in August: bring it on.