June 2003 - Part 2
Neil Bray made his circuit racing début at Brands on 18th
May, and won his class, driving Chris Brays Escort. Not to be outdone Chris was
a class winner well.
Neil mixing it with BMW's and a Chevrolet
Camero as he comes round Paddock Hill Bend.
Neil has been competing in Motor Sport for many years, starting in the
usual Autotests in a Mini, moving to Autocross also in Mini’s. Then short
circuit ovals beckoned and Neil raced Formula Two Stock Cars until he lost his
arm in an accident.
For many years since Neil has been trialling in the winter and
auto-testing in the summer, while son Chris became a successful Mountain Bike
racer. Then last year Chris decided to forsake two-wheel pedal power for four
wheels and an engine, purchasing a Mk 3 Escort to compete in the BARC/CTCRC
Classic Group One Touring Car Championship. Chris made his début at Lydden Hill
last summer and finished last. More events followed and slowly Chris and Neil
developed the car.
Dave Nash putting a "one" in front of Chris'
"seven" to become Neil's "17"
Neil surveys the results of Chris' spirited driving!
The Controversial chopped off Dell Orto's
It was clear that the engine wasn’t fast enough. In particular
they decide that the rather primitive standard fuel injection system was holding
the car back. Researching the rules they found that they could use any
carburettors. “Carburettors are free within the limitation that the total number
of chokes must not exceed the maximum number of chokes fitted in production or
homologated for Appendix 'J' Group”. After some research Neil and Chris fitted
two twin choke side-draft Dell'Orto's, each with one of the chokes blanked off!
The winter’s mods transformed the car, although like in Classic
Trials Neil’s interpretation of the rules raised a few establishment eyebrows!
The 2003 championship started at Rockingham and Chris won the class as he did at
Thruxton a couple of weeks later. Brands was next and Neil was itching to have a
go! Neil had got his race licence late in 2002 after a battle with the
authorities who considered him to be disabled. Those of us that know Neil and
have seen him in action driving and fixing his Skoda know that he may have only
one arm but disabled he ain’t! It was a bit of a fight but the establishment
crumbled and Neil got his race licence.
His circuit début was to be at Brands Hatch on 18th
May. Now normally this series attracts a mere handful of spectators but
Neil’s race was taking place as part of the CSMA festival and 40,000 people
crammed themselves into Brands over the two day weekend! Chris has driving in
the Classic Group One race as normal and Neil in the “Classic Thunder Race”
The weather was on/off sun and rain but the wet stuff wasn’t
around when Chris and Neil practiced. Both were two thirds back down the grid
but low and behold Neil was a little bit faster! It was remained dry for the
races in the afternoon. Chris raced first and got of to a slowish start.
Watching at the top of the Druids hairpin Mike Hayward and I saw him swapping
places with a couple of competitors in his class, bending a few body panels in
the process, before he got ahead on the forth lap with Don Hughes tucked right
behind in his Golf. Chris kept is cool and stayed ahead and towards the end
pulled away for his hatrick of class wins. This gave Chris the maximum of 33
points in the championship and the overall lead.
Neil’s was the last race. He powered into an almost immediate
class lead and kept it through to the end ahead of six other more experienced
competitors and setting a new class lap record of 59.928 seconds for the Brands
Indy Circuit which I make an average of 73.28 mph which is pretty quick! Neil
and Chris are certainly raising some inertest, with one or two other competitors
questioning the legality of the carbs, the body and a few other things as well.
I am sure that will only make them go faster!
PS - At Lydden two weeks later Chris finished
second in class and Neil blew the motor up when he shifted from fourth to first
instead of forth to third!