Historic Motorsport: Taking a Mini to Corsica

Mini racer Phil Harrs is to take a 1963 Cooper to contest the famous Tour de Corse Historique, and is thought to be the first to enter a Mini in the rally

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British Mini driver Phil Harris is taking his 1963 Mini Cooper to Corsica in October to contest the famous Tour de Corse Historique.

For the 18th running of the historic event, which shares many roads with the island’s World Rally Championship event, Harris understands that his will be the first Mini to enter the five-day, high-speed rally.

Harris said: 'It’s a fantastic event, drawing about 250 historic cars from all over Europe. We are very fortunate to get an entry as all the top European crews like to compete on the same stages as the World Rally Championship.

'The rally organisers are really thrilled to have the Mini in the rally and they’ve featured it heavily on their website and their social media. As far as they know, we are the first Mini to enter the Historique event.'

'At a recent BRDC event,' Harris continued, 'I was chatting to Paddy Hopkirk about rallying a Mini in the 1960s. My father had support from BMC with his Mini back then and knew Paddy.

'Paddy told me about the BMC team going to Corsica in 1967 for the World Rally Championship. All three factory Minis retired on the first day with engine troubles, so it’s going to be a tough rally!'

Harris has been a regular BHRC class winner in the Mini over the last two seasons and his car recently celebrated its 55th birthday having first been registered on July 18, 1963. Harris has owned the car for the last 42 years.

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GT40s head to Castle Combe

A strong line-up of Ford GT40s is being assembled for the seventh Castle Combe Autumn Classic on Saturday October 6 when the model’s 1968 Le Mans victory will be celebrated.

A number of genuine period GT40s will take to the Wiltshire track for demonstration laps. The cars will pay homage to local racer and Bath garage owner Ron Fry who raced two GT40s at his local track in the late 1960s, starting with chassis 1017 and then moving up to the ex-Targa Florio chassis 1073, raced in period by another Combe local hero, Terry Sanger.

Already confirmed are two cars from the stable of experienced historic racer Philip Walker, including chassis 1041, which was originally sold to Belgian racer Jean Blaton in 1966. Meanwhile, Mark Finburgh will bring his chassis 1071, which he raced at Castle Combe 45 years ago.

Multi-talented Milicevic

Jon Milicevic returned to Formula Ford racing after a gap of 24 years as he claimed four successes over the weekend at Croft.

The Towcester-based garage owner took two more Historic F3 wins to move closer to the 2018 title in his Brabham BT21B and shared the Lotus 23B sports-racer of Nick Fennell to a class win in the Guards Trophy.

To round out a full weekend, Milicevic had a guest run in the Historic FF1600 Lola T200 of Stuart Rolt.

'I did race in Formula Ford Zetec in 1994,' admitted Milicevic before finishing best of the over 50s category on Saturday. However, he elected to miss Sunday’s race as the car showed signs of overheating.

Grimsthorpe back in use

After an absence of 107 years, competition cars will return to the grounds of Grimsthorpe Park near Bourne in Lincolnshire on Sunday August 26.

The half-mile hill in the grounds of the Deer Park will be brought back into use to celebrate the speed trials first held there in 1903. Demonstration runs for period cars and motorbikes will be held on the hill that has a one in six gradient.

The last speed trials at Grimsthorpe were held in 1911 and there are now plans to build on this inaugural retro event, with the eventual ambition of running a competitive hill climb.

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Edwardian capacity grid at Mallory

The VSCC returns to Mallory Park on Saturday for its annual Bob Gerard Memorial Trophy meeting. Star races include the Edwardian Race with a capacity grid of cars, most of them at least 100 years old. The event marks the fourth of five events this season for the Club’s Formula Vintage race programme.

Tour of Cheshire gets new date

The Tour of Cheshire historic road rally will run on a revised date of Saturday September 29. The traditional early March date was lost to heavy snow and ice and Knutsford and DMC has now re-scheduled the popular event, which will start as originally planned from the Bickerton Poacher in Cheshire.

Tough time for Yool

Andy Yool had a trying time when he attempted to race his Chevron B8 in the Guards Trophy at Croft on Saturday. After two racing laps, a detached oil pipe dropped copious amounts of oil and then started a fire as he retired in the pits. Yool now plans to have the car ready for the Chevron B8 50th Anniversary race at the Oulton Park Gold Cup.

Glaister runs new Ford Anglia

Chris Glaister has acquired a Ford Anglia 105E to race alongside the earlier 100E of his father Ed and both ran at Croft over the weekend. Glaister Jr had added the ex-Adam Gittings car to their Carlisle stable for Historic Touring Cars but engine gremlins sidelined both cars on Saturday.

Mallory handicap race for under 30s

A special handicap race for drivers under the age of 30 will be run at Mallory Park’s VSCC meeting on Saturday. A strong 22-car grid of Pre-War cars will contest the trial race and four women, headed by Hannah Enticknap in GN Salome, take on the men with young Oliver Llewellyn starting as favourite in the family’s successful Bentley 3/8.

St Wilfrid’s Classic Rally looks for volunteers

Ripon Motor Sport Club’s St Wilfrid’s Classic Rally will run this Sunday starting from Ripon Market Square at 0830hrs. The historic road rally runs on maps 99 and 100 and the organisers are still in need of more marshals. Willing volunteers should contact David Wainwright by email on stwilfscm@riponmotorsportclub.co.uk

Rowe returns after Cadwell accident

Nelson Rowe made a successful return to racing at Croft, 10 weeks after his dramatic Historic FF1600 accident at Cadwell Park. The Bristol vet used his Formula Ford 2000 Reynard to score a brace of second places at the North Yorkshire track despite gearbox issues over the weekend.

Birrell guests at Croft Nostalgia

Former F2 and touring car racer Graham Birrell was a guest at the Croft Nostalgia weekend and presented some of the awards for Saturday’s races. The Scot, brother of the late Gerry, raced successfully at both national and international level through the 1960s and early 1970s, having been an early winner of the Scottish Saloon Car Championship.

Pictures courtesy of Paul Lawrence

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