Spa Summer Classic 2023

Hot. Hot. Hot.

Another busy weekend for Barton Racing, and seemingly our third continental meeting in almost as many weeks. And flushed with success (a class win first time out for the BMW 2002) at Zandvoort, the whole team arrived at the famous Francorchamps circuit full of optimism. Both cars certainly looking, and sounding the part thanks to preparers Retro Engineering and Nigel Reuben Racing.

With weekend temperatures predicted to easily exceed 30 degrees centigrade alterations were made to both cars during Thursday testing aimed at improving ventilation and driver comfort. The TVR seemed comfortable around the 4.35 mile circuit despite the heat whereas the BMW showed definite symptoms of unwanted heat build-up in both oil, and water. Tom and Neil worked on the problem making subtle mods along the way but still air qualifying conditions did nothing to help.

Even so, Harry put the BMW midway up the grid (fifty-seven cars) ready for the two Saturday/Sunday thirty minute sprints, while the combined efforts of Harry and Ollie Reuben saw the TVR take a splendid third place grid slot for the 3 Hour enduro (published entry of sixty-seven), due to start just before seven on Saturday evening, planned to finish five minutes before local curfew.

Belcar Historic Cup Race 1 start procedure was a farce with Harry without explanation being bumped down eleven places to thirty first on the parade lap. Then an unwanted very slow mid-race safety car interval caused much frustration, not to mention overheating of engines. On release the bunched up field headed for La Source without our car, side-lined due to expensive sounding engine noises. Further investigation confirmed a problem emanating from somewhere deep inside the block. We were down to one car.

Come Saturday and on time the 3 Hour grid formed up, only for the start to be delayed by organisational problems (again). When eventually the flag fell, three hours had become two hours and forty minutes. On lap four Harry hit spilt fuel on the entry into Bruxelles and finished up in the gravel. Unfortunately recovery then took twenty-minutes. Back in the pit garage pipe-work needed replacement and the TVR eventually rejoined in last place. There now followed an epic recovery drive, the combined efforts of Harry and Ollie moving the car continually up the live chart. To cheers all round the team eventually claimed a well earned 37th overall, given the full three hours and a top twenty place would have been a distinct possibility, but that’s racing.