Aston Martins, Record Speeds & A Bashed Finger at Shelsley Walsh

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The centenary of ASTON MARTIN cars was celebrated at the even older Shelsley Walsh hillclimb over the weekend of August 17-18th.  A host of wonderful examples of the marque appeared on the hill, in the paddock (above left the 2010 LMP1 Le Mans car) and out in the picturesque car park(above right) framed by the north side of the Teme Valley.

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Down in the historic timber framed barn sat ‘Green Pea’ the 1922 Grand Prix Aston that had been driven at the venue that same year by the dashing but ill-fated Count Zborowski who’s best known legacies to the motoring world at large are his aero engined Brooklands racers – one of which became BABS the fastest car in the world in 1926 (before killing it’s driver Parry Thomas a year later, the Count himself being long dead from his own racing accident by then) and a trio of monsters all called CHITTY BANG BANG .

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Outside the barn sat a works team DB2 that Reg Parnell and others raced in 1951 and with the ancient water mill at their backs, two Group C cars  – the 1983 Nimrod and 1989 AMR1 were static exhibits. What a pity they didn’t get a little  exercise on the hill itself. The thunderous AMR1 would have rattled windows in far off Worcester…

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But it wasn’t just a weekend of Aston’s, there was some serious motor sport in evidence with rounds of the close fought British Hillclimb Championship and truly jaw dropping speeds from the top runners.  Scottish ace Wallace Menzies won the first of the two point scoring run-offs with his F1 Cosworth engined DJ Firehawk clocking a record speed of 150mph over the finish line. – now you may think “150mph… in an F1 engined car ? Not much to write home about…” but the finish line is only a short steep blast uphill from a slow 2nd gear ess-bend with a 1-in-6 gradient and the road is barely wider than the car itself – so the impression of speed is frankly jaw-dropping.

The second run off fell to triple champion Scott Moran (Gould Cosworth V8)and took him into a very narrow lead over arch rival (and reigning champion) Trevor Willis (OMS Powertech V8) in the closest title race in years. Alex Summers was awarded ‘Man of the Meeting’ for breaking the class record in his

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supercharged 1340cc DJ Firehawk and got well into the top ten results with a car half the size of most rivels. Sadly a non starter for reasons unknown was the fastest ever ‘Shelsley Special’ (a self-built car)  the 4wd turbocharged Mannic of Nic Mann (Left) which uses a small gas turbine from a helecopter to drive the turbocharger which in turn boosts the 1700cc Beattie engine to unheard of levels of power.

I was among the small selection of trade stands at the front of the car park and backing onto the first corner of the course and with a view of the action if things were quiet on the sales front (and they were…) but the whole event was somewhat coloured by an altercation between my left hand and a large hammer I was using to knock in pegs for the marquee. The result being a denim-blue tinged index fingernail with a suspected fracture to one of the bones within… ouch!

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I must offer my thanks all those people who helped me out subsequently , among which were Kieth and Doug Wheeler who gave me assistance taking the marquee down at the end of the event, Kevin the Ice Cream man who supplied several cups of ice water in which to dip the offending finger, Jeremy Nightingale for fetching the first aid officer, rescue marshal Tim Hull for a tube of soothing arnica gel and Gavin Ross for some ibuprofen which together with paracetamol I already had with me numbed the offending finger quite effectively.

I was touched by all the concern shown and offers of help all weekend. Hillclimbing is a wonderful sport that really does attract a very decent type of enthusiast!

Simon

 

 

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