The trouble with hillclimbs…

The list of factors which enhance driving performance doesn’t feature an overnight flight back from the US anywhere near the top.  But the HSA round at Prescott is one of my favourite events so jet lag wasn’t going to stop me doing it.

Doing most of the preparation before I went to the US made things easier than they could have been, and getting up early wasn’t any kind of problem. The HSA entry was very impressive and there were 4 of us driving Formula Fords: me, Charlie Reilly in his Van-Diemen, Simon Mcbeath in his Swift and class leader Carol Nichols in the Nike built by her father.


I’d been planning a crushable nose structure for some time, and although I was happy to run without it at Curborough, some of the run-off at Prescott is made of Armco.  Which meant more than a few weekends producing one.  (And given what the day job is, some effort was expended in modelling it’s crash resistance.) The structure fits inside the original RF84 nose cone, and every time I tried it at home it fitted perfectly. After scrutineering, not so much, though it was eventually persuaded on.


Colin and Sara Davies have changed cars this season too.  Sara said, “its like a different hill”  And how right she was.  I’ve driven Prescott literally a hundred times, but the first time up in the FF was very different. Essentially I’ve got to relearn it. Even though my first run was a PB by over 2.5 seconds it was basically a slow run up the hill to sus things out.  My second run was nearly 2 seconds faster as I started to learn the hill/car combination.


My target for the first official run was to get into the 52’s.  Which I did, just, at 52.95.  For the final run I wanted a 51 something, and would have bet that I’d achieved it, however the display on the return road showed 53.06 – slower.  So what had gone wrong?

Replaying the last run in my head it was evident that I was getting lots of wheel spin – out of Etores and out of Pardon.  So I need to think about sorting that out, and that highlights the trouble with hillclimbs; it will be a while until the next time out at Prescott and I’ll only get 4 goes then.  It got me thinking about data-logging again.

Some points/observations from the weekend:

  • The HSA is a great club.. excellent company and the right sort of competition all day.
  • History is odd: Charlie Reilly raced the same kart/engine combo as me in the 80’s – at the same places.
  • Thanks to Dave Winfield for his help, not a bad mechanic for a simulation engineer.







Another trip round the Curburgring 8

I always enjoyed the Owen Motor Club Graham Hill Sprint in the Panda, and it’s not just the association with one of my favourite drivers.  I like the 8 configuration, the Owen Motor Club always run a great event, and this year the weather was perfect for my first HSA outing of the season.  Not bad.

I was hoping to pick up where I’d left off at the MAC Sprint a few weeks back. But motorsport isn’t like that.  On my first practice run I tried to pull away after the molehill and depressingly was in neutral.  It took a few goes to get it in to gear and by that time any prospect of a decent run was history.  The same happened next time out.  Cue deep depression.  Followed by it dawning on me that I’d fixed this sort of issue before when I couldn’t select 4th.


That was achieved by moving the gear lever forwards.  The lower end is held in a ball joint, and the position of this can be altered by screwing it in and out of the threaded boss on the chassis.  2 turns of the bearing increased the travel in the 2nd/4th direction and come the first official run run the gear shift worked perfectly.  I actually cheered inside my helmet.  Run 1 was timed at 69.04 – not great but much better than the practice pace. I tried to keep it steady for run 2 and was really pleased to take 0.3s off my PB.  Today the HSA website shows I scored 13 points and leaped straight into 53rd place in the championship. I’m really looking forward to getting more rounds in this year.  Watch out Carol.

CO58 (20)

In terms of running the car I moved on some more too.  I’m getting quite practiced at cutting the engine at the right point to stop it getting too hot and I’ve developed a technique to stop the clutch overheating and dragging at the start.  Basically I approach the line and put the car into neutral whilst the start line marshalls do their stuff.  When I’m about to go I put my foot on the brake to arrest any movement as I put it into 1st, then off the brake and onto the throttle to go.  Might not be optimal but it does seem to work and remove the heat stress/creep etc.

Next outing Prescott. First time on a hill in the FF.