Last weekend we had a most enjoyable Awards dinner at The Brandon House Hotel, near Coventry, presenting trophies for both 2020 and 2021.

Inevitably numbers were somewhat down on previous years, not helped by some late cancellations, but Andy and Linda Robinson and Keith and Sue Ford managed to conjour up a very happy atmosphere amongst those present, including several representatives from our title sponsor Hitek.

Plans for 2022 are already taking shape with provisional calendars available from the 750 Motor Club and also for the Classic Alfa Challenge, more of which below. Something not finished – and maybe we have to go back to 1962 for a later end to the season – is the Formula 1 World Championship which continues to be slogged out between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Sadly most of the Alfa Romeo news is for matters off-track with the takeover rumoured by Andretti Motorsport, as reported in FF114, not taking place and Antonio Giovanazzi losing his place to up-coming Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou.

2022 RACE DATES

We always look forward to getting the next season’s race dates and those for 2022 were recently agreed with 750 Motor Club, as follows –

April 30thSilverstone (National)
May 28th/29thCroft
July 23rd/24thAnglesey (Ferrari Festival)
August 14thBrands Hatch (Festival Italia)
September 17th/18thCadwell Park
October 8thOulton Park

In order that we could be at both the prestige Ferrari Festival and Festival Italia events certain compromises had to be made but it will be good to return to Cadwell Park and Anglesey. All the meetings are double headers,                      

FRANK WILLIAMS (1942-2021)

I don’t think anyone with a true interest in motor racing can have felt anything but sadness when the news of Frank Williams’ death last week. Having read his late wife Ginny’s story of the days and months after his road accident that left him paralysed, I can only be amazed at what he was able to achieve given his physical restrictions. There will be many words written by those who knew him as drivers, team members, colleagues and friends, so I will not attempt to add to them. However, I still remember clearly the euphoria created by that first Formula 1 win by Clay Regazzoni at Silverstone in 1979 when, with other Alfa Dealer Team members,  we watched the race from the exit of Copse. Frank Williams never used an Alfa Romeo engine in any of his cars nor, as far as I know, had direct contact with Alfa. However there was one little nugget in Maurice Hamliton’s biography. It would appear that when Piers Courage came to an agreement to drive for Frank in 1969 he had already been offered £30,000 by Ferrari for a joint F1/sportscar programme. Williams would pay Courage £3,000, the balance of £23,000 being made up by Alfa Romeo in order to have Piers as part of their sportscar (T33) team.

A LOOK BACK AT THE  CHAMPIONSHIP CLASSES IN 2011

Thirty years is a long time for any championship but it was an achievement that we celebrated at our annual dinner/dance and prize giving in January 2012 as we looked back at the previous twelve months. At the time, I reported that 2011 had been a very tough year. Despite a strong end to 2010, the entries we had hoped for were never there in 2011 and we suffered a major disappointment at the Britcar 24 Hours meeting with only 19 cars putting in an appearance on the Silverstone GP circuit. Nonetheless, there were things that shone through, notably the competitiveness of Class E (the forerunner of the Twin Spark Cup) and the great spirit between all the teams, helping each other out with parts and advice – Bianco as ever leading the way while Neil Smith’s loan of a starter motor from his own broken car to try to get Anthony George into the race at Silverstone was typical.                                                                                        

For the second year running, the champion – Emma Karwacki, the second woman in a row – emerged from Class E. Emma enjoyed a fantastic season, taking 7 wins from 9 starts and despite missing the first two races was able to move ahead mid season. On her way to these wins, she almost always led from the start in her 147 and fended off all the challenges that came her way in determined style as the likes of James Thomas (146) and Dave Messsenger could confirm! Emma had matured enormously over the years and I could rate her steely resolve against that of the relative newcomer who I reduced to tears after an on-track incident at Pembrey near the start of her career – and it wasn’t really her fault!

Class A1 was in so many ways a let down. It had all the makings of some great racing but we never got all three of our quickest cars onto the grid together. We came nearest at the Britcar meeting in September, , only to have Neil Smith (156), Anthony George (156 Turbo) and Roger Evans (GTV) all qualify but only Roger make the grid,  winning the race and taking the Kevin Griffiths trophy. There was a great battle between Neil and Roger at Oulton, which Neil won and it was the NJS 156 that was without a doubt the star of the class with 6 overall wins from 7 starts. Roger Evans only managed to do four races in 2011 but won three of them, twice at Silverstone and once at Rockingham. Unfortunately we only saw Anthony George’s 156 Turbo on four occasions but they brought victory at Snetterton and Brands Hatch while the only other winner was Guy Hale at a poorly supported Mallory Park meeting in the ex Alistair Iles 147GTA. Chris Oxborough had some good results at Silverstone and Cadwell to finish third in A1 with his supercharged 75 3 litre.

Class A

1. Neil Smith (156 2.0 WTCC)
2. Roger Evans (GTV 3.2 V6 s/ch)
3. Chris Oxborough (75 V6 3.0 s/ch)

Class A2

Class A2 for modified cars up to 2 litres didn’t take off as hoped in 2011 but Steve Dymoke had some good races overall in his 156, chasing Neil Smith’s A1 car until his season fell apart mid year. A highlight was nearly grabbing pole at a wet Brands Hatch. However, Steve had done enough to win the class and the sight of the two NJS 156s both on and off track was always inspiring. Showing that a 33 8v could still be a competitive proposition was Nick Anderson, his races at Snetterton and Pembrey being particularly memorable. Chris Snowdon took a win at the opening Silverstone but after a non start at Cadwell we sadly didn’t see the Lahoma 33 again. That he should finish third in the class points table showed how thin Class A2 was.

1. Steve Dymoke (156 2.0)
2. Nick Anderson (33 1.8 8v)
3. Chris Snowdon (33 2.0 16v)

Class B

Class B was a bit of a hybrid but was capable of producing some excellent racing between cars from different eras. Mechanical problems apart, Louise West enjoyed a good season with her 33 16v to win the class and we remember a great inter-class battle with Sarah Heels (147 GTA) at Pembrey. John Griffiths only did three races with us in 2011 as he was busy racing his 156 abroad (and winning) but he still took a couple of wins here, at Snetterton and Brands Hatch. Robin Eyre-Maunsell (75 3 litre) did more races but suffered some reliability problems in Avon Racing’s famous no.60 and sometimes had to switch to no.44, the spare. Best race in the class all year, though, was on the Brands Indy circuit between Clive Hodgkin (75) and Paul Plant (147 2.0) Clive finally taking the class win with no.60.

1. Louise West (33 1.7 16v)
2. John Griffiths (156 2.0)
3. Robin Eyre-Maunsell (75 3.0)

Class C

Class C could have been one of the best classes in the Championship but there were never more than three starters. With her usual level of reliability, Sarah Heels swept to the class win and it was clear in terms of overall results that her driving had taken a major step forward. Andy Robinson (our current championship co-ordinator) arrived mid season to bolster the entry with his ex Graham Seager 155, taking wins at Oulton Park and Mallory. The other class winner, both times at Brands Hatch, was Ron Davidson at the wheel of the GTV 3 litre he had been racing since 2000.

1. Sarah Heels (147 3.2 GTA)
2. Andy Robinson (155 3.0 V6 12v)
3. Ron Davidson (GTV 3.0 V6 24v)

Class D

Class D’s glory days in its previous Class F guise had long since gone. Paul Plant did the first four races in his 33, building up enough points to win the class while Steve Fletcher appeared on three occasions with his pristine example. Testing the waters was newcomer Guy Hale (33 16v) who won at Silverstone after a great battle with the similar car of Paul Gillett.

1. Paul Plant (33 1.7 16v)
2. Steve Fletcher (33 1.7 16v)
3. Guy Hale (33 1.7 16v)

Class E

Class E, as I said at the beginning of this review, really started to come into its own in 2011 with some intense battles throughout the season amongst the eventual 21 points scorers, particularly in the second half.  After the first two rounds won by 2010 champion Mel Healey and Neil Smith, giving Emma karwacki’s 147 a “test run” at Snetterton, it would have been hard to predict the eventual outcome of the class, let alone the overall title. The arrival of Emma Karwacki at Cadwell, however, changed all that and for the rest of the season she was the dominant factor. Nonetheless, one should reflect on the fact that Mel Healey led the class early on and, despite leaving the scene mid year, still managed to finish third behind James Thomas (146) who certainly lived up to his early promise, even if it took him to the Britcar Silverstone in September to gain that first elusive win. Andy Inman had a difficult season, his best result being a fine 2nd and fastest lap at Oulton but still amassed enough points to finish 4th in class. The big surprise was Dave Messenger who quickly took to his 156 after the more difficult 75 3 litre, scoring a superb class win at Brands in the last few feet (or 0.031”!) from James Thomas. From then on he was always a contender. James Ford (156) returned as a competitive element while Martin Jones raced hard in his smart yellow 145. Andrew Bramah returned with an Avon prepared 147 while other familiar names who raced occasionally were Ray Foley, Paul Buckley, Graham Heels, Chris Finch and Chris Healey. There was a likely future front runner in Peter Tervet who moved over from racing Minis and took a third place at Oulton.

1. Emma Karwacki (147 2.0)
2. James Thomas (146 2.0)
3. Mel Healey (156 2.0)

As usual there were some special awards presented at the annual dinner –

Most Improved driver:  If you had asked me at the beginning of the season if Dave Messenger was going to be a race class winner and be pushing hard for top spot in the second half of the season as he got more track time with his smart Darnells 156, I would have said “probably not”. Well I had to admit that I was proved wrong on both counts and Dave was recognised as the 2011 Most Improved Driver.

Best Newcomer: It is always a pleasure to welcome new drivers to the Championship who show commitment and ambition. A class win first time out helps but the acquisition of a quick modified car mid season, backed by the professionalism of the NJS team, helped Guy Hale to establish himself as a likely future front runner.

Preparers Award: If you are going to win the Prepaers Award, make sure that all your cars are competitive. That might have been Neil Smith’s mantra with NJS Racing for 2011. In the end, not only did Emma Karwacki win the championship with her 147 but Neil and Steve Dymoke took their classes – and there was Guy Hale as a back up.

The Co-ordinator’s Champage Award. This was a very personal trophy and had four nominations.

  1. Dave Messenger’s win by just 0.031” at Brands.
  2. Emma Karwacki passing James Thomas in Sunday’s race at Pembrey.
  3. Roger Evans briefly heading Neil Smith at Oulton.
  4. The epic Emma Karwacki pit stop at Silverstone after a puncture on lap 1.  Neil Smith said it was race over. Paul Plant had other ideas and he, Neil and Westley Evans rushed back to the paddock for a new wheel and tyre. Sally Clifford and Gethin Llewellyn kept Emma calm and the result was the car returning to the track and being classified as a finisher.

The winner was the NJS pitstop crew.

We were grateful to the BRSCC once again and to Alfashop for their continued support as title sponsors. Also to Andy Hancock (MMC Motorsport Insurance) for providing Driver of the Day awards.

I had agreed to stand down as Championship Co-ordinator at the end of 2011 having fulfilled the role since 1982. The Championship had gone through the heady days of split grids and seen some wonderful racing with nearly 700 drivers taking part. Graham Heels had accepted an invitation to take over the role and we hoped that a new face at the helm would, alongside the BRSCC, take us back to being one of the strongest one-make championships on the National scene. Meanwhile, a very generous donation from competitors would send Diana and I on welcome holiday to Croatia and the Greek Islands although I would enjoy a busy back-up role in 2012 and beyond.       

ALFA CHOOSE A TEAM MATE FOR BOTTAS IN 2022

Alfa Romeo came away from the Mexican Grand Prix with another 4 points, scored by Kimi Raikonnen for a fine 8th place. Brazil and Qatar, however, were less productive neither Kimi or Antonio Giovanazzi scoring. Behind the scenes, the possible Andretti deal had collapsed over the issue of “control” of the team after a sale and this opened the way for a deal for Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou to become the team mate for Bottas bringing with him, it is reported,  plenty of cash, maybe amounting to $30 million. The whole of this resulted in the end of Giovanazzi’s three year stint at Alfa, much to the annoyance of the partisan Italian press and, it would appear, Sauber’s  Chairman who resigned after a major disagreement with Team Principal, Fred Vasseur, over the signing of Zhou. The Raikonnen/Giovanazzi partnership, therefore, has just two races to run – Saudi Arabia this coming weekend and Abu Dhabi a week later.

GABRIELE TARQUINI RETIRES

The news that Italian Touring Car ace, Gabriele Tarquini. had decided to retire from racing at the age of 59 brought back many memories not least of which, of course, was his win for Alfa Romeo in the 1994 British Touring Car Championship. Tarquini made many friends here that year which was not without problems and controversy, including a dispute over the 155’s aerodynamics and rolling his race car at Knockhill in front of the boss of Alfa who was over for a visit. But the BTCC win represented only a fraction of a long career and many will perhaps not recall that Tarquini started out with single seater ambitions that took him through Italian and European Formula 3, to Formula 3000 and then Osella, Coloni and AGS in Formula 1 between 1987 and 1992 (plus a last fling with Tyrell in 1995)  His Osella in 1987 was fitted with the Alfa Romeo V8 turbo engine. Tarquini was on the entry list for 78 Grand Prix but failed to qualify on numerous occasions and only managed to score one championship point which, in itself, was probably a miracle (Mexico with AGS in 1989) given the quality of his machinery. However, it was in touring cars that Tarquini will always be remembered scoring many successes for Alfa Romeo with Alfa Corse , JAS Motorsport, Nordauto and Autodelta with 155s and 156s between 1993 and 2005. Stints with Honda, Lada and most recently Hyundai would follow. Major titles apart from the BTCC were the European Touring Car Championship in 2003, the 2009 World Touring Car Championship with SEAT and the 2018 World Touring Car Cup with Hyundai. Motor sport has been Tarquini’s life and he will no doubt pop up in some capacity as a team manager/owner or race official in the future.

Photos: by SPA Motorsport and Michael Lindsay

CLASSIC ALFA CHALLENGE EXCITES AT SILVERSTONE

The final race in this year’s HRDC Classic Alfa Challenge took place on the Silverstone GP circuit on Sunday, October 30th, being combined with the Dunlop“All Stars” race which included an eclectic mix of cars from big Jaguars to quick Minis. However, it was the Alfas that emerged on top with James Colburn and Richard Merrell fighting it out all the way with their 2 litre Giulia Sprints on a wet track. James, as he has done in every race this year, led the way home while James Wright had a relatively lonely race into 3rd place amongst the Alfas with his 75 Twin Spark. There were plenty of other familiar faces, notably Alex Jupe, Jonny Horsfield and Stephen Chase with their Alfetta GTVs and John Symes in his GTAm replica. Sadly missing from the grid was Chris Snowdon’s Alfetta which, in the very wet qualifying session acquaplaned into the barrier on the Hanger Straight,  causing enough damage to leave the car a non starter, while Chris himself was a little bruised and thankful for the Hans Device which saved him from further injury.

Julius Thurgood has issued his list of race dates for 2022 which are as follows –

April 29th/30thMay 1st Donington
June 11th/12thThruxton
July 3rdLydden Hill
August 14thBrands Hatch (Festival Italia)
August 29thCastle Combe
October 29th/30thSilverstone (GP circuit)

MODEL NEWS

It seems that you need very deep pockets to be a serious model collector these days. I was interested to see that relatively new (and odd ball) model maker Cult had recently produced various versions of the Alfa Sud Ti and 33 with a whopping £250 price tag. Equally jaw dropping is the £259 that will be required to buy a Tecnomodel 1/18th P3 as driven by Tazio Nuvolari in 1932. The last two years C39 and C41 Formula 1 Alfas (in 1/43rd scale) can be acquired for under £100 and, if you are patient enough, for far less in a sale. 

POSTSCRIPT

Those were the days – proper drivers’ briefings! Here we see race day instructions being given by the legendary Don Truman at Mallory Park in the days of the old wooden race admin office  Can you recognise anyone?

Michael Lindsay
Tel: 01223-891219
E-mail: [email protected]