Classic Carnival at Castle Combe

The Castle Combe Circuit’s first ever two day classic race meeting takes place over the weekend of August 2 and 3, with saloons, sports cars and single seaters from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s providing the bulk of the entertainment.

The ‘Classic Carnival’ gets under way on Saturday with local ace, Vince Woodman from Chipping Sodbury, showing off his rebuilt Cologne Capri in the Touring 70’s race. Woodman and his car were front-runners in the ‘Group 2’ era that produced some of the most spectacular and popular racing saloon cars of all time. Woodman still holds the old ‘special saloon’ lap record at Castle Combe, set in 1977 before the circuit was altered to its current format.

In the ‘Stars of the ‘70s’ section of the 45 minute race is another competitive Chipping Sodbury driver, Nick Stagg in his 2 litre Mark 1 Escort.

Continuing the afternoon is the Dunlop Oldies But Goldies race for pre 1960 GT and Touring cars. It’s hard to believe Austin Westminsters, Ford Zephyrs and Morris Minors were once the basis of our British Touring Car Championship, so seeing them perform now is a real treat.

The COYS Top Hat saloons move things on a little, with a lovely contrast between the mighty Ford Mustangs and the nimble and ubiquitous Minis.

Completing Saturday’s action is the Cloth Cap Pre ’66 GT race incorporating the Jaguar XK Challenge, with the 4.7 litre TVR Griffith of Jamie Boot.

This car/driver combo is also on show in Sunday’s 40 minute Guards Trophy race, one of seven that day from the Historic Sports Car Club. Veteran Ted Williams from Nailsea is fresh from his win at Pembrey a few weeks ago in his Ginetta G16 and knows Castle Combe better than most.

The 70’s Road Sports race is packed with entries, including the Porsche 928 of Gloucester’s Paul Anderson and the Lotus Europa of Swindon’s Nigel Ashley.

Classic Formula 3 cars from the 70’s and 80’s feature the impressive talent of Ringwood’s Bill Coombs, in his Argo JM6, whilst the BARC Classic Clubmans Championship sees race team ace, Ray Mallock, in one of his eponymous cars and Axbridge’s Richard Fry back in another Mallock MK88.

Ferrari specialist, Bob Houghton, from South Cerney appears in his Merlyn MK11A in both the Classic Racing Car and Historic Formula Ford races, Cirencester’s Westie Mitchell also in the latter in his Mk20 example and Clevedon’s Nigel Williams in a Palliser.

Bristol’s Dan Cox won the HSCC/HRSR ByBox Historic Saloon Car Championship race at Castle Combe in 2007 and is still winning this year, his latest victory in his Lotus Cortina being at Pembrey. Joining him is Frome’s Crispin Thomas, out in an Alfa 1600 GT Sprint, after a break from his outings in the Castle Combe Saloon Car Championship.

The Melton Concrete Products Formula Ford 1600 championship has taken on a new complexion after a dominant debut victory at the last meeting by Bratton’s Ben Norton in the Wiltshire College Spectrum 011. The Australian built car has been threatening for some time, giving the likes of championship leader, Josh Fisher from Bridgwater and Bradford On Avon’s Ed Moore, plenty to think about.

Also losing his 100% win record was Josh’s brother Felix, a misfire giving Warminster’s Jonathan Hoad his first Class B win in his Van Diemen RF90. Swindon’s Oliver Bull enjoyed a race long dice to take Class C honours in the Wayne Poole Racing RF89 Van Diemen.

Other local names to watch out for will be Castle Combe’s Andy Jones in the Ray and Bradford On Avon’s David Vivian in the Swift SC92, those two coming 4th and 6th respectively last time out.

Westbury’s Shane Marshall is riding high after a heart stopping drive from the back of the grid to win the last round of the Special GT Championship.

Bath’s Guy Woodward finished second in his identical Chrysler powered Class A Jade Trackstar.

Missing from the last race, after an engine problem during qualifying was May Bank Holiday winner, Josh Fisher, back this time for another busy weekend in his Mantis Supersport.  Kemble’s Ed Lovett is one of his Class B rivals in the Norma M20.

Trowbridge’s Mark Funnell was denied another stunning top five placing at the last round having qualified 6th and run 5th for most of the race until the supercharger of his road going Lotus Exige failed. Another Trowbridge resident, Andrew Shanley, took 2nd in the same class in his Fisher Fury. Castle Combe’s Keith Sprules has his Ferrari 360 joined by two similar cars in Class D for this round.

The class for under 1.4 litre cars is providing some of the biggest thrills in the National Mobile Windscreens Saloon Car championship. Local drivers, William Di Claudio from Chippenham and Jason Cooper from Yatton Keynell, fought tooth and nail at the last round, Cooper the quicker qualifier in his Fiesta after Di Claudio’s 106 suffered a misfire. The Peugeot took the honours though after Cooper was held up by drivers from other classes, the duo likely to continue their battles all season long.

Calne’s Tony Hutchings continues to develop his Audi TT which is now close to the pace of the leading runners in Class B, with Bristol’s Mark Wyatt in the Astra and Portishead’s Tim Maddocks in the Civic Type R the likely main opposition. Interesting entries in that class are the MG Maestro of Cirencester’s Jonathan Wills, the Nissan 200 SX of Bath’s Ingram Legge and the new Alfa Romeo Sportwagon of Malmesbury’s Guy Parry.

The new MG ZR of Bristol’s Nick Mizen is working well, taking second in Class C last time out.

The Lancer Evo dominates at the front though, with Melksham’s Simon Norris the local exponent.

The weekend gets under way on Saturday with qualifying from 08.40, racing from 12.45. Sunday starts with qualifying at 8.35 with racing from 11.40, and a classic car parade takes to the circuit during the lunch break to complement the racing.

Admission prices on Saturday are £8 for adults, with OAPs £4 and children and Paddock transfer free. Sunday’s charges are £15 for adults, OAPs £7.50 with children under 16 free of charge. Paddock transfer is only £2.50, or free on all advance bookings. An advance two-day pass is available for £20, OAPs paying only £10.

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