Historic Motorsport: Atkinson’s ‘boyhood dream’ Monaco F1 drive

One person’s misfortune is another’s gain as Chris Atkinson will attest ahead of his Historic Monaco Grand Prix debut in a Hesketh 308

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Isle of Wight racing driver Chris Atkinson says that the chance to race a Formula 1 car at Monaco this weekend will be the realisation of a boyhood dream.

Atkinson, aged 51, will race the Hesketh 308 owned by Irish racer James Hagan while he recovers from a skiing accident. Atkinson usually drives the ex-Mike Hailwood Surtees TS8 Formula 5000 but will step up to DFV power for the Historic Monaco Grand Prix

'I’ve been to Monaco before but never to race,' said Atkinson. 'I drove the truck there for Frank Lyons! James has a skiing injury and asked me if I wanted to do it. It is one of my boyhood dreams to race a proper F1 car and to do it at Monaco is amazing. I just want to finish and bring the car back in one piece.'

Atkinson has raced on the street circuit at Pau and had a shakedown test in the Hesketh on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit last week. 'It’s certainly lighter and more nimble than the Formula 5000.'

Ten days ago Atkinson and his father Ken competed in a Historic Sporting Trial in his Cannon. 'That’s the two extremes of motorsport: a muddy trial to racing an F1 car at Monaco in two weeks,' said Atkinson. He also contested the 2017 London to Brighton veteran car run in his 1903 De Dion Bouton.

Atkinson warmed up for the Monaco race by racing the Surtees in the Derek Bell Trophy races at Donington over the weekend.

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Nations Cup returns to Brands

The 2018 edition of the Historic Formula 3 Nations Cup will be held at the Historic Sports Car Club Legends of Brands Hatch meeting on June 30/July 1.

Organised by the 1000cc F3 Historic Racing Association, the Nations Cup is for up to two teams of three cars per country. Teams from regions or even UK counties can be entered and the idea was resurrected by the late Bev Bond, who ran in Team GB with James Hunt for the final edition at Thruxton in 1970.

This will be a return home for the Nations Cup as it was first held on the Brands Grand Prix circuit in October 1966 and won by the British team of Chris Irwin, Piers Courage and Peter Gethin. Irwin taking the spoils in his Chequered Flag Brabham BT18 and that car is due on the grid 52 years later with Andrew Hibberd.

Escort Mk1 racer on track

Tim Swadkin and Terry Caton fielded an immaculate Ford Escort Mk1 in the Historic Touring Car Championship race at Donington as the G-Cat Racing project made its UK debut.

The two-litre BDG-powered car was finished late last season in time for a first run at Portimao and was running for the first time in Britain over the weekend.

'It’s been built to full Group 2 specification like the Broadspeed cars of 1973 and ’74,' saidGreg Caton who is a part owner of the car. 'We’ve had the shell about four years.'

While engine builder Swadkin and Caton senior raced the Escort to a class win, Greg shared the Ford Capri of Ludovic Lindsay at Donington.

BMW 635 goes back to the start

Thirty-five years after it raced at Donington in the European Touring Car Championship, a freshly rebuilt BMW 635 was back at the track for the Historic Touring Car Challenge race at the Historic Festival.

Nick Padmore raced the BMW on its first competitive outing since a complete rebuild by BMW expert Geoff Steel.

In the 1983 500km race it was driven by four drivers including Italian Giuseppe Briozzo but failed to finish as Martin Brundle spearheaded the driver line-up in the winning Tom Walkinshaw Racing Jaguar XJ-S.

'We tested at Silverstone in the wet and only did a couple of laps, so this is the first proper run,' said Padmore after qualifying sixth fastest. The car later retired mid-race.

Busy season puts teams under pressure

Last weekend’s Donington Historic Festival and this weekend’s Monaco Historic Grand Prix have given some historic race preparation companies a hectic week. IN Racing fielded a total of 14 cars at Donington and then left its Nottingham base on Monday with six cars destined for Monaco. Only the Lister Bristol of Stephen Bond was entered for both events.

Pace car provenance

Michael Wilkinson drove one of the Broadspeed-built Jaguar XJ12Cs as the pace car for the rolling start of the Jaguar Classic Challenge race at Donington on Saturday. The former 1976 European Touring Car Championship car was the first of only four such cars built for the Jaguar project, which was dropped at the end of 1977. The car, owned by Chris Scragg, is now for sale.

Hibberd's historic team

The Hibberd team fielded eight Formula Juniors at Donington as part of a 10-car entry from the crew headed by Andrew Hibberd. Five of the Formula Juniors were original Lotus 22s from 1962, covering chassis 10, 32, 36, 42 and 49. In addition, the team tended the Austin Healey 3000 of Andrew Hayden and the Lotus 11 of Harindra and Tim De Silva.

Students to experience pre-war hillclimb

The Vintage Sports-Car Club will welcome members of Colyton Grammar School’s Hawk Racing team to its Wiscombe Park Hill Climb on Sunday. Hawk Racing played a leading part in the UK’s ‘F1 in Schools’ initiative and the students from the Devon school will have the chance to meet drivers and see Pre-War engineering in action.

Tilley ramps up Formula Junior schedule

Teenager Benn Tilley returned to Formula Junior at the Donington Historic Festival when he had a pair of guest races in the Lola Mk5 of Ian Robinson. Tilley also hopes to do the Silverstone Classic in July in the car most recently raced by its preparer, Iain Rowley. He sat in the car for the first time before qualifying on Friday at Donington.

Busy time for an XK150s

Jaguar expert Chris Keith-Lucas took his road-going XK150S to Donington for the Jaguar Classic Challenge fresh from completing a seven-day, 1000-mile tour of Northern Spain. 'We polished it and changed the tyres,' said Keith-Lucas of converting the 60-year-old car back into race trim.

Balfe's historic debut

British GT racer Sean Balfe made his historic racing debut at Donington in U2TC with a freshly-built Lotus Cortina. Balfe wanted a car for some fun racing on free weekends and had the Pre-1966 car built up by Andy Wolfe. He hopes to tackle a couple more races this season around his GT programme.

Images courtesy of Paul Lawrence

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