Catterick Vintage & Classic Hill Climb – 15th October 2017
A quote from Middlesbrough & District’s website: “Using Waithwith Bank on the MOD land to the west of Catterick Garrison this is a popular event with competitors. The event this year had, not only the largest entry to date of 3 wheeler Morgans, but also an excellent and varied selection of other vintage and classic motorcycles.”
This was the final round of the 2017 MTWC Sprint and Hillclimb Series and no fewer than 9 Morgan Three Wheelers entered this year.
|A report from Austin Smith.
The final event of the 2017 Sporting season turned out to be a real cracker with nine Morgan Three Wheelers making up around a fifth of the overall entry. No wonder Grant Sellars and his team at Middlesbrough and District Motor Club were pleased to welcome us to their excellent hillclimb, especially as we’d even brought the last remnants of fine weather that we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy at most events this year.
As is usual, many competitors arrived the day before to enjoy the social side of Morgan Three Wheeler racing, and this time welcomed new 5 Speeder owner Nigel Clay to the Sporting scene. Nigel, who was to passenger for Austin Smith, soon settled in and even entertained as he strummed a few ditties on his guitar. One notable absentee was Becky Washington, who was hopelessly lost in the pitch blackness around Catterick. A search and rescue mission was launched and after around an hour Becky was found. Once safely in the paddock she had a large glass of wine to calm her frayed nerves.
Race day soon dawned and so did the MTWC Apprentice Scrutineer, Nick Clegg, who started to learn his new trade from the maestro Phil Bridge.
Unfortunately the event got started a little later than planned, but once underway it was run very efficiently with competitors split into groups for their runs up the hill. The course itself is somewhat wider than a typical hillclimb track, but is lined with large kerbs and larger concrete blocks, which were covered in straw bales at locations most likely to be hit by competitors.
First Morgan away on the first of two morning practice runs was John Minns in his yellow Standard Class 2 Speeder Aero. Austin Smith sat patiently on the start line as John eased his way up the hill. Eventually the green light came on and Austin sped away in the 5 Speeder, determined to show passenger Nigel what he could expect from his own car come the day he takes it on its first event. Austin arrived at the top of the hill and was surprised to find no yellow Morgan.
Next up was Jim Edwards in his wonderful Standard Class Family JAP, with passenger Julia Perry expecting quite a different experience to her usual ride in the 5 Speeder. When they arrived at the top of the hill she was absolutely beaming after enjoying a fun, if rather sedate, ride up the hill. Apparently they had time to exchange waves with the stranded John Minns, who, as it turned out, had aborted his run part way up the hill due to clutch issues. All the other Morgans successfully clocked respectable times as they learnt the hill.
After fixing his clutch, John Minns successfully reached the top of the hill on second practice and Jim Edwards charged up some 9 seconds quicker than before.
|When asked how he found so much time, Jim put it down to the fact that he now knew where the finish line was, after thinking he’d completed the course when he saw John parked up on his first run!
After lunch the competitive runs started, with Bill Tuer (JAP 8/80 Racer) setting the pace with a blistering time of 36.75 seconds. Chas Reynolds (Super Sports JAP) and Austin Smith both stopped the clock under 40 seconds, while Cathy Quinn (Super Aero Matchless), Tony Quinn (TM Super Sports Matchless) and Phil Bridge in the Clews F Super were all close at around 44 seconds. Tony Pearson, with wife Charlene making her final appearance (Awww) in their immaculate silver Super Sport JAP clocked 48.43. In Standard Class, the first run honours easily went to Jim Edwards as he raced up the hill in 75.33 seconds.
The efficiently run event meant there wasn’t too much time for fettling Morgans between runs, so Tom Cowley decided to keep his hands clean (for once!) and coach Cathy Quinn on her start line technique, leaving a long line of black rubber across the paddock!
The Morgans were being pushed harder and harder during the afternoon, with Chas Reynolds improving by an amazing 2 seconds, which moved him to just over a second behind Bill Tuer’s final run of 36.31.
After getting progressively faster, Tony Quinn, with wife Lily in the passenger seat, unfortunately suffered ignition problems that caused him to fail on his final run, but earlier runs secured him the Touring Modified class win. Meanwhile, daughter Cathy gave passenger Maggie Bridge a thrill as she lifted a wheel and nudged a straw bale on her way to a fastest time of 43.45.
Determined to give passenger Nigel a thrill, Austin Smith also learnt the art of lifting a front wheel, but this was in his 5 Speeder, as he claimed 3rd place Morgan with a fastest time of 39.17.
Phil Bridge/Becky Washington claimed 4th place with a time of 42.43, while new Competition Secretary, Tony Pearson, had an enjoyable event and clocked a best time of 47.38.
A highlight of the third and final hill run was the mounting battle in Standard Class. Both drivers pushed hard, with Jim Edwards nearly hitting a straw bale on his way to setting a time of 74 seconds dead, which pipped John Minns by just 19 hundredths of a second. The deciding factor could have been Julia Perry’s decision not to accept one of the tasty apple pies being offered by John around the paddock!
With much thanks to Grant Sellars and the team at M&DMC, this event provided a very worthy conclusion to the excellent 2017 Sporting season…. and a BIG thank you must also go to Cathy Quinn for encouraging so many Morgans to make, for some, a long trek up north. It was well worth it!