Neil at Eau Rouge in the Macon

For those that have not yet been to Spa the journey involves a ferry trip to France then a reasonable drive across Belgium to the Arden to Francorchamps. The drive across Belgium was on fantastic roads and we finally hit the mountains about an hour before Spa. We had programmed in Spa into the GPS but unlike England the circuit is badly signposted and we finally arrived at the Paddock entry after some additional sightseeing. The track is well laid out with massive pit areas but only half a dozen toilets for the pits. To make things more interesting the doors were propped open so everything was on show which left nothing to the imagination.

Henry presenting a WARM plaque to Helana

We were based with the Monoposto Racing Club from Holland which were assigned one of the dozen or so individual pits for our category. There were over 70 cars in our group so getting them in was a tight fit. To make things worse the German Formula Ford group which was also running along with another 8 groups were pitted nearby. Not happy with their pits one huge semi trailer from the German team moved into our area and then put their cars blocking our exit to the track. I never realized how narcissistic some groups could be but this was certainly an education.

The event was managed by Helana for the MRG and she was very well organized and had the right approach to the historic event. We were all greeted like celebrities and the local drivers were all great people. They even presented us with medals for our efforts and even put on a fantastic barbeque (European style).

The Australian team from left: Brian Searles, Henry Oosterbaan, Peter Boel, Neil McCrudden and Lance Carwardine

The practice on Friday saw us get two practice sessions. With 70+ cars it was very interesting. The cars ranged from Formula Atlantics with ground effect to Formula Vees. The track was easy to learn with only one blind corner and we were all having fun. The two sessions went well. The weather was hot and great for our cars over the weekend. Saturdays race went well with Lance and myself changing place several times through the race. On Sunday was similar but I ran out of gears on lap 5 of the race. I had split third gear and could only get back to the pits in 5th. Even so it was fantastic.

During the weekend we were all lowering our laps times each time we went out to a respectable time for the Sunday event.


Silverstone from the Ferris Wheel

The following weekend was the Silverstone Classic. This is the biggest historic event in the world and to run this event the logistic issues are immense. Our cars were in either the National or International Pits which are about 2kms apart. Our trailers were parked some 3kms from our pits and the Campers were then in a different location. It was a nightmare getting around. Just about every car club had a display and it was amusing to see 60 red Ferraris and all the other exotic cars side by side. Four of us were running at Silverstone. Marty was in the Chevron, John Rowe in the Cooper. John Davies was also running in his Cooper as well. Peter Boel and myself were in the National pits at the other end of the circuit. I was running the Lotus and Peter the Lola. Ray Stubber was also there with his Brabham BT30.

There was a definite hierarchy with the event with those in the International pits seen as the elite. Certain benefits were available to them but not to us. If you wanted to change your tyres or get new ones it meant a trip to the international pits so those without local transport all missed out on getting tyres.

Some of the trade displays at Silverstone

Silverstone is a large circuit and is very flat. It is difficult to see where you are going and would take several events to properly learn the circuit. Apart from following the helmets/cars in front it was quite difficult. John Rowe only managed qualifying on Friday before a piston let go and put a hole in the block. Marty had a great event with close racing with Ray Stubber. The group they were allocated was F5000 vs F2s so the racing was intense.
Peter Boel had a great event and I had a few gear box problems in the Lotus. I was on the dummy grid for qualifying when we were all waved on to the track. I went to put it into 1st gear and the box locked in two gears. Peter Alexander was next to me with the UK Macon Racing Cars and was able with his mechanics to free it up and I managed to get in 3 laps to qualify. It was important to have done it as there were 8 reserves waiting for a race in our category. On the Saturday I had similar problems on the track and the car would lock up as I went back to lower gears. After the event I pulled the box apart and found that the reverse idler had come loose and was randomly picking up reverse.

On Sunday I was able to have a reasonable run. On reflection I found that Silverstone although it is a F1 circuit has in my view no soul. It is big and commercial to have practice on the Thursday it would have cost $500 for two 20 minute sessions.
The best fun event for the visit was Ireland. This I would recommend to anyone thinking of coming over. The best circuit to drive on was Spa. I also loved Snetterton and Brands Hatch. I have done over 15000 kms in our camper and seen an enormous amount of the UK and Europe. We have met some fantastic people which I now consider as great friends. If I was coming over again the one extra item I would put in the container would be some bicycles or other transports aids. Getting around the pits is an enormous effort as they are all so large and it is Kms to facilities.

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