As every race driver knows, testing and preparation play a vital part in any race victory. And sometimes a bag of Smarties can help as well…
As you read this, workshop lights are staying on late into the night as mechanics work their magic to find that extra little bit of speed. And that’s just as true where cars in Revival’s always closely-fought Settrington Cup are concerned as anywhere else.
With 40-or-so cars competing for the trophy this year a lot is at stake and the adrenaline will be pumping when the drivers are flagged away (last year Sir Stirling Moss was on starter duty) for the sprint to their cars; it’s Goodwood’s only Le Mans-style start.
GRR wanted to find out just what makes a Settrington Cup winner so we went along to famed historic race car preparer CCK near Uckfield in Sussex to see precisely what’s involved.
‘It is basically a matter of making sure all the wheels are pointing in the right direction,’ says Graham Smeeton enigmatically, obviously keen not to give too much away.
CCK’s Berkshire Green car (it’s the same colour as CCK’s Revival favourite, the Austin Metropolitan) is being driven this year by Settrington Cup debutant Harry Gulliver (six-and-a-half) and hopes are high of a podium. When we call in the cheeky little machine is in a bay alongside the BMW 1800 Ti that CCK are preparing for some bloke called Darren Turner to drive in the all-star-cast St Mary’s Trophy this year.
The good news for driver Harry is that his car promises to be faster than ever, while of course strictly adhering to the originality that underpins Revival racing.
‘We’ve fitted new bearings and checked the suspension geometry – these cars have a lot of toe-out which you don’t want,’ adds Graham. ‘Then it’s a question of making sure the axles aren’t bent, taking out all the play in the steering and hubs and pumping up the tyres as hard as you dare to cut rolling resistance. After that it’s down to the driver to pedal as hard as he can…’
One change will have to remain on Graham’s wishlist: a longer crank. ’That could make for more speed but it’s not original and wouldn’t be allowed. You just have to work with what you’ve got.’
What then is the overdrive switch in car No56? Is that allowed? Says Graham: ‘It’s actually the lights switch. The only overdrive here is the chocolate we’ll put in the car to keep the driver’s energy levels up…’
The Settrington Cup has become a real Revival favourite over the years. ‘You wouldn’t believe how seriously some of the parents take it,’ says CCK’s Daniel Lackey. ‘We’ve just prepped another Austin J40 for a customer and the bill came to £600.’
Ah, the J40. What else but the beloved pedal car made in the Austin Junior Car factory in South Wales, a government backed project to bring employment to disabled coal miners. Between 1949 and 1971 this not-for-profit enterprise turned out more than 32,000 J40s and the racier Pathfinder models, their pressed steel bodies made from offcuts from Longbridge.
With their 1950s looks, opening bonnet (complete with mock engine), boot, handbrake, adjustable pedals, lights, horn, padded seat and chrome bumpers, the J40 was a big hit in the UK and around the world – as long as you weren’t more than nine or 10 that is.
Today they are sought after classics that change hands in restored condition for £3500 and more. ‘You’ll pay £1,000 just for a basket case,’ says Daniel. A basket case was what the car shown here was a few years ago when CCK boss Shaun Rainford bought it – like a lot of other regular mums and dads competing at Revival the thought of a historic car – and a whole race! – just for the under 10s was too much to resist.
The Settrington Cup – this year being run on Saturday and Sunday – is a 270-yard sprint from just after the chicane to the start line, right in front of the grandstands where a few thousand spectators – and a handful of very proud mums and dads! – will find it impossible not to get caught up in the excitement, glee and, yes, occasional tears of the racing.
Our advice? Have that bag of consolatory Smarties at the ready…
Over the years J40s have featured in many races and rallies, including in 1955 the Junior Grand Prix at Silverstone. This video of that race perfectly captures the fun of an event so brilliantly perpetuated by the Settrington Cup.
As well of course as giving 2015’s competitors some useful dress code tips…
For more information on Goodwood, please visit this website www.goodwood.com