April 2023


Another year of both hillclimbs and circuit races in the Triumph Special and Mazda MX5 respectively in 2022 was completed with very little detriment to both cars, and much fun was had the year finishing with another Birkett 6 hour relay race and this time with no technical problems.


In March 2022, the BB special came up for sale. This 1962 experimental tiny hillclimb car had been built for my father. Burnt out in a garage fire in 1963, and rebuilt by Denis Bissell over the next 47 years, I had helped Denis test the car, and competed in it at Prescott in 2019. It was a lethal car that needed much development, and although Denis carried out some improvements to the car, I think he got fed up with it and put it up for sale. I persuaded my elder brother to buy it, and he effectively gave it to me to develop further and use it as I wanted.


Dad had hated the car and said it needed a younger and braver man to drive it. I, however, knew what was making the car lethal to drive, and proceeded to carry out drastic surgery to the steering and front suspension. In fact, I threw away the steering system and started from scratch. A test day at Curborough in March proved that I had transformed the steering and handling so much that I was confident to let my 15-year-old granddaughter share the testing with me.


The Triumph Special has been put into storage, and the BB is my hillclimb mount for this year, starting with Prescott Hillclimb on April 22nd. I will have to be very careful with this car. I spun it twice at Curborough (it has a very short wheelbase of 5ft 3ins). It also belongs to my brother, and he knows that I can’t afford to “write it off”; I’ve competed in one of Peter’s cars before……….52 years ago, and didn’t damage his Mk1 Sprite then, so hopefully he’ll trust me again to be sensible.


Another year, possibly my last, circuit racing the Mazda, this time with the Darlington and District Motor Club where I hope to encounter better driving standards, will provide me with plenty of motor sport activity for another year.


With Covid restrictions affecting motorsport in 2020, I was lucky to get some great motor racing done in between lockdowns. Both circuit racing in the MX5 and Hillclimbs in the Triumph Special. In fact, I achieved a personal best at Prescott, bringing my fastest time down into the 52 second category. I did think that at 72, I should be getting slower, but perhaps not. I was delighted to come 2nd in the Classic Hillclimb Championship for pre- 1970 racing cars. My lap time in the MX5 at Castle Coombe this year was two seconds faster than the last time out. Having done 5 races in the MX5 this year already, I have more meetings planned, and more hillclimbs planned in the Triumph.  I’ve finally given up trying to make either car quicker, as I’m happy just to join in the MX5 races of 40 cars on the grid, and not to finish last in any race. At some venues, I don’t even get lapped! As always, I’m really happy to meet up with old chums at any race meeting; the social scene is just as important to me as the competition.


I again did the Birkett 6 hour relay race with my MX5 chums last autumn at Silverstone, but practice revealed a seizing differential which would not have lasted a half hour stint in the relay. Chum Alex Lewington kindly loaned me his car for the two half hour stints, so I went out to race in a car I’d never even driven. How brave of a fellow competitor to loan me his car! I didn’t crash it, drove it with a small degree of caution (came off only twice with no damage) and never hit the rev limiter. Motor racing friends are the best.




The BB Special


About ten years ago, I was contacted by Dennis Bissell who had been given the remains of my father’s burnt-out experimental racing car, in the 1960s. The BB special. Designed by the renowned suspension guru of his time Leslie Ballamy and built by Buckler Cars, this was a miniature racing car that Dad hoped would do well in hillclimbs. Originally powered by a 250 cc Villiers engine and replaced quickly by a 650 cc Triumph motorbike engine, Dad tried to get to grips with its Kart like steering and handling. He didn’t like it and was very relieved when it was destroyed in a garage fire. He said, “it needs a younger man than me to tame it”. Dennis claimed to have nearly completed the rebuild, and would I like to see it?


Nearly ten years further on, the car was complete and would I like to test it with him. I did, and after scaring myself, entered it for a Prescott meeting in late 2019.

It caused quite a stir in the paddock, as it hadn’t been seen for over 40 years (it had taken Dennis that long to rebuild it). There were, of course some teething troubles, but my final competitive run was completed with both cylinders actually firing, and I won my class on handicap. I had never driven such a dangerous car in my life. It was quite good on the corners, but it just didn’t want to go in a straight line. I suggested many improvements to Dennis, and the car is getting better. There is a possibility that I may compete in it again, when we’ve got it right; a testing session this March shows some good improvement but still things to do.


Again, good friends trust me in their cars, how lucky I am to have such wonderful opportunities.



While the Triumph Special continues doing sterling work on the Hills and Sprint courses, and even giving me a prize or two, my circuit car (Mk1 MX5 1600) is in its third year of competition. This is a lovely car to race. Rear wheel drive, beautifully balanced, and a joy to race, I’m thoroughly enjoying racing this car. I’m still learning the circuits and how to get the best out of the car. I’m no longer coming last in the races as I did in the MG ZS, but I’ve still got a lot to learn before I can compete with the front runners.

Racing with 5Club Mazda, we are not allowed to spend much money on making the car faster; skim the head and reduce the weight of the car are allowed. Tyres are limited to 3 very road going types, wheels and suspension are specified manufacturers only. The result is close racing at budget prices, and therefore a huge amount of fun.

I think I’ve found the right car for me to race, and hope to be racing it for many years to come.