Last Saturday saw the first annual trip to Oulton Park, my home circuit, and where, I suppose my motor racing heart remains. The race card was jam-packed with closed-wheel antics from saloons and sportscars of all eras. It quickly became apparent from the spectator banks that Ford was particularly well-represented in this department, with scores of fabulous saloon and touring cars out there battling for outright and class victories. From the oldest Anglia 105E “Angleboxes” to modern Fiesta and Focus racers, there was something for everyone.
My own appreciation for fast Fords probably came about as a result of father owning a brace of XR3Is when I was very young – and my mum’s orange Mk 1 Escort estate probably helped. It was great to see all eras of Escort were out on the track – from wide-arch Mk 1 Mexicos to Mk 5 Cosworths.
That venerable Cosworth engine, with its chirruping wastegate, has been a staple part of Oulton Park life for as long as I can remember. From watching Andy Rouse, Rob Gravett, et al battle for Group A honours in BTCC as a youngster, to Tony Sugden’s monster Skoda 130RS and Win Percy in the Harrier LR9. I suppose it’s like an automotive comfort blanket. On Saturday it was motivating several cars, but appeared at its most effective in the Sierras. The former Chris Hodgetts BTCC car was wonderful to behold and on the first lap of the Classic Thunder race it was sideways over the start/finish straight bumps under power as Craig Davies wrestled with cold tyres and that amazing engine. In the Blue Oval Series rae, run exclusively for Fords, the Sierra Sapphire of Graham Wait was hilariously rapid, spearing over Hill Top at a quite indecent lick. It was all he could do to gather the car together and hustle his way through the Knickerbrook chicane before another enormous slug of torque was unleashed up Clay Hill.
The whole day’s racing was as entertaining as an Oulton Park clubbie always is. From an Austin A40 being deposited on its roof out of Knickerbrook to spinning Capris and Caterhams battling tooth and nail. Who needs the Melbourne sun and the glamour of Grand Prix racing…?