Features FF2000 Historic Formula Ford HSCC

Simms and son

This weekend’s Historic Formula Ford aggregate winner was presented with the Paul Simms Trophy, in memory of racer and engineer Paul Simms who died last year. Vintage Formula Ford spoke to his son, Benn Simms, who presented the trophy, raced in Formula Ford 2000 and even found time to try his hand at commentary at Oulton Park.

“That was quite interesting,” said Simms, who was invited into the commentary box for the first Historic Formula Ford race. “Not something I ever envisaged myself doing, but I actually quite enjoyed it.

“It’s difficult to know how it works in some respects, fortunately Ian (Titchmarsh) is very good. He was asking me questions and keeping me involved in the whole thing.”

Simms chose to give the cup that bears his father’s name to the winner of his favourite series, Historic Formula Ford, at a meeting at his favourite circuit, Oulton Park. Aided by Simms Sr’s engine-building prowess, he is a three-time Historic FF1600 champion. Although not currently racing in the championship, he still has several cars at his disposal.

“I’ve got a number of them, I’m quite fortunate like that. But they’re all in bits!

“We’ve still got two Jomos, but one is literally a rusty old chassis, and the other one is not far off being a car. It could have an engine in it, get it going, but I’m spending all my time in this thing (his FF2000 car) at the moment, keeping it going.”

Simms also has a Dulon MP15 and a Royale RP16 in his collection, plus a more modern FF1600 that he and his father built themselves.

“It’s called a Chase. It was our own design and based on a 2002 Mygale. New chassis, new suspension geometry, that sort of thing.

“You could run it in National, although it wouldn’t be particularly competitive. We never had a decent engine in it so we never managed to see whether it was any good or not. We got a third place in it once at Mallory Park.”

The Chase may yet see the light of day, despite needing work.

“Maybe one day we’ll revive it, but we’ll see. I’ve got enough things to play with.”

The Paul Simms Trophy was presented to Titan driver Tom McArthur by Simms and his mother.

Classic Formula Ford HSCC

Harrison stars in dramatic Classic closer

Jordan Harrison has won his second Classic Formula Ford encounter of the weekend, putting just over 23 seconds between his Lola T540E and his nearest rival.

Harrison was initially challenged by Henry Chart, but Chart’s Van Diemen RF81 broke a rose joint and dropped its driver to sixth. He struggled on for a few laps and even seemed to rally for a while, but he retired on lap four.

Classic newcomer Ian “Parky” Parkington was one of the first to benefit from Chart’s misfortune. He put his ex-Tiff Needell Crossle ahead of Jake Shortland’s Lola T440 fairly early, having had a decent squabble with the young driver over what was third place. Parkington was second when the flag fell, some three seconds ahead of Shortland.

Rick Morris was part of the Parkington/Shortland rivalry for the first three laps, waiting in his Royale RP29 for either of them to slip up. He attacked both and briefly passed Parkington, but tangling with Shortland’s wheel sent his car flying. The gearbox was cracked on landing and Morris had to steer his noseless car into the pits.

Shortland then had Joe Ahrens in a Van Diemen RF80 to deal with. Ahrens ran as high as third and even attacked Parkington, but he was pipped on the line by Shortland, who took third by just over a tenth of a second.

Shortland’s coming-together with Morris dropped him behind series regular Alan Fincham, who held on for fifth in his RF80, albeit quite a long way behind. There was another big gap to sixth-placed Colin Williams in his PRS, but he was only marginally ahead of Paul Crosbie’s RF80. The two had been close throughout the race.

Class B winner Oliver Chapman (Lola T200) was eighth and Mark Harrison, father of Jordan and driving a Royale, was ninth. Tenth was taken by Jon Nash’s Van Diemen RF80, who just nipped into the top ten ahead of Mike Wrigley’s Class B Merlyn Mk11A.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image by Richard Towler


Fennymore wins as Simms fights from the back

Graham Fennymore has secured his second Historic Formula Ford 2000 win of the weekend, leading comfortably from pole position.

Fennymore’s Reynard SF81 was consistently fast and he made the most of his leading position to pick up another easy-looking win, in a race that was far less eventful than the first.

Andrew Park was second in his SF81, having dealt with some timing gremlins over the lunch break. He was not able to keep on the back of Fennymore but was easily quicker than the group that followed him for most of the race, consisting of the Royales of Drew Cameron and Molly Dodd and Ian Foley in a Reynard SF78. Cameron prevailed out of the three, holding on for third, and Dodd repeatedly attacked, braking very late. By the end, their party was broken up by the arrival of Benn Simms’s yellow SF77.

Simms, a non-finisher in Race 1, came through from the back to finish third. Initially it was relatively simple and he made up 12 places on his opening lap. His biggest obstacle was Dodd, who refused to concede at Old Hall Bend and continued to defend effectively for several corners. Simms’s experience showed and he passed Cameron fairly quickly after dispatching Dodd. Cameron was fourth and Dodd fifth.

Simms brought Lee Bankhurst with him from the back. The Royale RP30 driver had also dropped out of the first race. He followed Simms through until the final lap, when he was unable to get past Dodd or Cameron to continue his mission.

Foley held on for seventh, ahead of Class B winner Fraser Collins in his Lola T580. Davy Walton (Reynard SF79) was ninth and the Delta T78 of Roger Price completed the top ten.

Despite eight cars failing to finish, there were no stoppages and most of the casualties pulled into the pits under their own steam.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image by Richard Towler

Classic Formula Ford HSCC

Jordan Harrison sees off modern rivals

Jordan Harrison has come out on top of a mixed Classic and Heritage Formula Ford field, fending off the 2018 car of Rory Smith.

Harrison’s Lola T540E is 40 years old, but he still managed to keep ahead of Smith’s 2018 Medina Sport, as well as his usual Classic sparring partner, Henry Chart.

Harrison had finished third in the combined qualifying and a 20-second head start on the Heritage racers helped, but it was an assured performance. Smith only got within striking distance on the final lap, passing Chart’s Van Diemen RF81. It had been Chart who threatened Harrison’s lead at a couple of points earlier and there was very little between the two for most of the race. Chart was unable to capitalise on a late excursion onto the grass by Harrison as he was trying to pass a backmarker and unable to take advantage. He was third on track, second in the Classic standings.

Another Lola, that of Jake Shortland, was a surprise frontrunner. He qualified fourth and had a lengthy tussle with Rick Morris’s Royale RP29, evetually prevailing over the 2019 champion. Morris did not make it easy for Shortland and refused to let the Lola driver get away. He hung on for much of the race before being passed by Ian Parkington in a Crossle 25F. Parkington had overhauled Joe Ahrens fairly early and maintained a steady presence behind Morris.

Ahrens, driving Richard Tarling’s Van Diemen RF80, briefly got past Shortland at the start but was quickly re-passed and had to settle for seventh, sixth in the Classic race.

Alan Fincham was the next Classic finisher in another RF80, in twelfth place after keeping in touch with four Heritage runners. Class B winner Oliver Chapman was next in a Lola T200, followed at a distance by Paul Crosbie’s RF80 and Mark Harrison in a Royale.

Away from the front-row action, the quick and decisive action of marshals prevented a red flag. Heritage drivers Neil Hunt (Mondiale M92S) and Stuart Jones (Van Diemen RF85) collided on the start line but both cars were able to be wheeled to safety before the rest of the field reappeared. Simon Jackson, wo competed in Classic in a Javelin, was also caught up in a first-lap crash with David Billington’s Van Diemen and had to retire his Lanan 1604.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image by Richard Towler


Fennymore cruises to victory in chaotic first race

Graham Fennymore scored an easy victory in the first Formula Ford 2000 race of the weekend as his rivals fell by the wayside.

The race was a battle for survival, with Fennymore’s nearest challenger Benn Simms parking his Reynard SF77 on the first lap with a broken gear linkage. Third-placed starter Lee Bankhurst’s Royale RP30 also expired on the first lap as a front wheel rim had completely sheared off.

Drew Cameron ended up being the closest to Fennymore’s Reynard SF81 in his Royale RP27, almost 28 seconds behind despite having a steady but quick run from sixth on the grid. He had overtaken previous champion Andrew Park’s SF81, which was down on power with suspected timing issues. Park carried on until the end and held third, reporting that he had less and less .

There was a considerable scrap for fifth place just down the road, initially involving Ian Foley (Reynard SF78), Colin Wright’s 1979 Reynard and Class B leader Fraser Collins in his Lola T580. Collins harried Wright for several laps but could not get past, but an approaching Molly Dodd had less of a problem in her Royale RP27, sweeping through the grid to fifth after missing a gear at the start and dropping to the back. Wright was sixth and Collins seventh.

Behind them, the field thinned out. Davy Walton was eighth in his SF79, ahead of the Delta of Roger Price and Jennifer Ridgway’s Parmalat-liveried SF78. Her father Graham Ridgway only had three functioning cylinders on his own SF78 and retired on the first lap.

The race both ended and began with a red flag; the race was ended early to retrieve a pair of crashed cars, and the first start was aborted on the first lap. It looked as if a collision between Simms and Fennymore was the cause; the two had contact at Cascades and Simms spun off. However, just out of sight, there had been a four-car pile-up just past the start, with seventh-placed Doug Crosbie (Reynard SF78) being collected by Brian Morris’s 1979 car, with at least two following cars being caught up in the melee. These included Jeremy Main’s similar SF79 and Dave Margetts’s Dulon. None of these made the restart.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image by Richard Towler

Historic Formula Ford HSCC

McArthur fends off Grant for Oulton honours

Tom McArthur has won the Paul Simms Trophy for Historic Formula Ford after a closely-fought victory over Callum Grant.

McArthur may have been able to build up a big lead in Race 1, but he faced huge resistance this time from Grant and to a lesser extent, Horatio Fitz-Simon. McArthur’s white Titan was shadowed constantly by Grant’s orange Merlyn, with only a brief period where it looked like he would get away.

Grant made a small mistake at Shell Oil, but he was back on McArthur’s tail the following lap. He passed McArthur briefly mid-way through the race and could have done so again at many other points. Ultimately, McArthur was the winner of a tense and exciting race, but only by 0.14s. Grant and Fitz-Simon set a joint fastest lap.

Fitz-Simon, in a Classic Team Merlyn Mk20, kept close to the leaders at the beginning of the race but lost touch slightly and only came back into real contention at the end. He kept well clear of Samuel Harrison (Elden Mk8), who was a fairly solitary fourth.

Harrison came close to being attacked by Danny Stanzl, in another Elden, as Stanzl pulled away from his familiar sparring partners, Brian Morris (Lola T202) and Matt Wrigley (Merlyn Mk11A/20). He was fourth overall and the quickest of the fourth-place challengers, although Wrigley did have a go at reeling him in and would have succeeded had his car not jumped out of gear at Knickerbrook, forcing him to concede the place to a determined Stanzl with a raised arm. Morris also slipped past to claim Over 50 honours and sixth place, with Wrigley seventh.

Ted Pearson brought his Merlyn Mk11/17 home in eighth and was second in the Over 50 standings. Tim Brise’s Merlyn Mk20 was just 0.029s behind and Kevin Stanzl, driving a Crossle, was less than half a second behind him. James Russell flew the flag for younger drivers with an eleventh place in his Merlyn, ahead of the Lolas of Chris Porritt and Paul Unsworth.

Full results at TSL Timing

Picture by Richard Towler

Historic Formula Ford HSCC

McArthur gets away as rivals squabble

Tom McArthur has won the first leg of the Paul Simms Trophy for Historic Formula Ford, building up a healthy lead as Horatio Fitz-Simon and Callum Grant battled each other for second.

McArthur had put Simon Hadfield’s Titan Mk4 on pole but was pushed hard at the start, going into Old Hall Bend three-wide with the Merlyn Mk20s of Fitz-Simon and Grant and then slipping to third at the exit. Both Grant and Fitz-Simon took turns in the lead before McArthur retook his place at the end of the first lap. He would stay in front despite attacks from Grant and Fitz-Simon and would win by just over 12 seconds.

The fiercest struggle was between Fitz-Simon and Grant for second. Grant’s orange car was initially the quicker one, but the slate-blue version driven by Fitz-Simon proved its equal and the two swapped places repeatedly. Their rivalry became increasingly confrontational towards the end and the nosecone of Grant’s car ended up looking rather battle-scarred. Spectators were denied a full-bore last-lap attack by Grant as Alan Schmidt sent his Merlyn up the escape road at Cascades, triggering a yellow flag.

Samuel Harrison was fourth in his Elden Mk8, but he was mostly on his own and not close enough to challenge for second. He was followed by a three-car drafting group consisting of the sister Elden of Danny Stanzl, Matt Wrigley’s Merlyn and Brian Morris in a Lola. Stanzl won their particular race-within-a-race despite a small excursion onto the grass late on. Wrigley was sixth and Morris seventh, taking the Over 50 win.

Paul Unsworth (Lola T200) was eighth, hanging on the back of their group but not quite close enough for a decent tow.

The Merlyn Mk20s of Tim Brise and James Russell followed, with Kevin Stanzl’s Crossle some way behind. Ted Pearson (Merlyn Mk11/17) was twelfth on his first race back from a break, having had to start at the back.

For such a physical race, there were no stoppages. George Ditchfield dumped his Elden on the grass at Cascades on the second lap, but yellow flags were enough.

Full results at TSL Timing

Image by Richard Towler

Classic Formula Ford FF2000 Historic Formula Ford HSCC round up

Gold Cup is go…

Racing action is set to get under way at Oulton Park tomorrow afternoon, as Historic and Classic Formula Ford and Formula Ford 2000 take to the track.

Qualifying for Historic Formula Ford and the Paul Simms Trophy has already taken place, with Tom McArthur on pole in Simon Hadfield’s Titan Mk4. McArthur at the front is not unusual, but the top places on the grid have a rather different look. Multiple champion Cam Jackson is sitting out this round, meaning that another new winner for this season is possible.

Horatio Fitz-Simon, driving for Classic Team Merlyn, put in a late burst of speed on a crowded track to set second-fastest time, ahead of the Merlyn of Callum Grant. Grant, returning to the championship after a break, led the session early on.

Samuel Harrison was another late surger, saving his fastest lap for last and putting his Elden Mk8 in fourth. Brian Morris (Lola T202) will line up next, having been impressive for the whole session. Matt Wrigley’s Merlyn will start from sixth, pushed out of the top five by Harrison.

Danny Stanzl was a steady top-ten presence and will start seventh in his Elden, ahead of Paul Unsworth’s Lola, Tim Brise in a Merlyn and Kevin Stanzl in a Crossle, who bumped James Russell (Merlyn Mk20) out of the top ten as Russell sat in the pits. Championship chairman Ted Pearson is making his return to the series in his Merlyn and will start from twelfth.

Jackson is also missing from the Classic grid. The two races are likely to become a battle between Henry Chart in his ex-Tim Harvey Van Diemen and Jordan Harrison, driving a Lola T540E. Both drivers have recorded wins during the season and as long as the weather is dry, both will be very quick. 2019 champion Rick Morris cannot be counted out either, although he has been struggling with tyres and set-up on his Royale RP29 this season. His Don Hardman Racing team-mate Stuart Kestenbaum will not be on-track.

Joseph Ahrens will be looking to improve on his previous performances. Newcomer Ahrens has shown top-five pace in Richard Tarling’s Van Diemen and will be in with a chance.

The first Classic race will share a grid with Heritage Formula Ford. McArthur will be racing in a 2017 Medina.

Formula Ford 2000 will also feature a wide-open top end. Benn Simms is back in action in his Reynard SF77 after taking a break to move house and sort out a blown engine. Championship leader Graham Fennymore will not be letting him get away and Andrew Park will also be keen to challenge; two 1981 Reynards will be in the mix with Simms’s yellow car. Races this year have mostly been dominated by Simms or Fennymore, but a three-way lead scrap is a clear possibility.

Molly Dodd (Royale RP27) will be out to make up for losing her win at Brands Hatch due to a transponder problem. The Spalding teenager might not be quite on the pace of Simms and Fennymore yet, but a top-five finish is a distinct possibility.