The last time I competed at the Brighton Speed Trials was in 2012 when the event was marred by the tragic death of motorcycle sidecar passenger Charlotte Tagg. The Green local authority siezed on that as an excuse to try and ban the Speed Trials from being held in the future (see previous posts). However they had not reckoned on the passionate support the event has and a campaign organised by the Brighton and Hove Motor Club led to the Speed Trials returning in 2014. Unfortunately I was unable to attend that year but was pleased to be able to get an entry for this year.

It was good to bring the Beast back to Madeira Drive. As miraculously always seems to be the case the sun shone and several thousand spectators turned up to watch what is one of the oldest motorsport events in the world.

Nadine Geary’s immensely powerful Brock Daytona Cobra Coupe. Nadine is a former owner of the Beast – which she always made go rather faster than me!

Whilst not one for the purists I rather liked Richard McCann’s Jaguar XKE / E Type series 2 with its series 1 headlights and flared wheel arches

For years John Scanlon has enetered the Speed Trials in a variety of seemingly inappropriate Bentley saloons. This year he entered his Bentley Arnage Black Label. These are fantastic cars – the last of the real Bentleys (before they became Volkswagons). Crewe built they look stunning and have the final iteration of the venerable 6.75 litre Rolls Royce V8 – this time built by Cosworth and fitted with twin turbochargers. They are rare and ludicrously cheap and if I had a barn I would fill it with good examples.

Tesla brought along a P85 which performed well but perhaps not as quickly as they thought it would.

This year Stuart Gilbert beat me to the fastest MG crown (though sadly the Benn Trophy that used to be awarded for fastest MG has been discontinued) in his ferociously quick 5.3L V8 MGB GT

Fastest Time of the Day went to crowd favourite Jim Tiller in his heavily modified 7.3L Allard J2. Jim has been modifying and competing in his Allard at the Speed Trials for nearly 50 years. This was only his second victory – the first coming in 2004.

Mexican company Vuhl entered one of their new cars for what was the first competitive outing for the brand. I suspect the car is better suited to events with corners than drag strips!

Its hard to imagine that Jim Tiller’s Allard once looked like this J2X. The smart Cooper Jaguar T33 next to it went on to win the first race at the Goodwood Revival the following weekend.

Robert Oram has been competing in his E Type at the Speed trials for many years. This year he also entered and drove the Ferrari F40 behind. A nice way to spend a day!

An unusual entry was Alan Collett’s rare ISO Rivolta GT. Like an Italian Gordon Keeble or Bristol it combines European running gear with a big US V8.

Third fastest car on the day was John Church’s standard looking Audi 80 Quattro. It was anything but being blisteringly fast. Note the portable engine cooling fan – no point wasting power and increasing weight with permanent mechanical or electric fans!

The General Lim rat rod Plymouth

Carole Torkington prepares the SBD OMS CF08 for its final run. She came within fractions of a second of beating Jim Tiller’s Allard and becoming only the second woman (after Patsy Burt in 1968) to win the event.

As per usual the event attracted an eclectic mix of vehicles.  And whilst I improved my time on previous years, running with list 1A road tyres made a class victory all but impossible.  I was, however, gratified to beat a Ferrari F40 in two of the three timed runs.

The video below shows Pierre Lequeux in his Austin Healey Sprite starting his timed run. The car has been wonderfully restored and competed at Brighton in the 60s.

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This year the Autosport Show at the NEC in Birmingham clashed with the new London Classic Car Show.  Apparently some very favourable trade prices lured to London many of those from the classic car industry who had previously attended the Autosport Show.  Certainly the Autosport Show this year seemed very much more focused on modern cars. In addition the historic racing fraternity were noticeable by their absence. Maybe they intend to focus their efforts on the Retrosport Show next month?

Despite such absences the Autosport Show was still a great day out, particularly as I was lucky enough to be able to attend on one of the less busy trade days. Highlights are below.

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Noble showed two of their striking M600 super cars. Great pace and handling but the M600’s £200k price tag makes it more expensive than its more prestigious rivals.

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Gorgeous paint scheme shows off the carbon fibre bodywork of an M600 at its best.

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Works BTCC MG Metro Turbo from 1984. Great cars and real giant killers, I nearly bought one 7 years ago. I didn’t as at the time there was nothing you could do with one. Now there are several race series in which they can participate and I expect they have more than tripled in value.

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The new Lamborghini Huracan is less flamboyant than Lambos of old but still has aggressive super car looks.

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There was a section for track and road icons at the ‘Show which included one of the earliest Ferrari supercars, created to sell to collectors rather than for motorsport, the F40.

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When introduced in 1987 the F40’s 471hp and 0 – 60 time of c 4seconds were stunning. As was its price tag – equivalent to c£700k now. Of course a £50k Lotus Exige is now faster to 60 and with 510hp my £65k Jaguar XKR is more powerful. Compensation for a current F40 owner is the fact that if they chose to sell their car now they could pocket well over £2m – despite the F40 being relatively common with over 1300 being built.

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One of the highlights of the show is always the reveals and announcements made by racing teams. This year was no exception. Last year’s BTCC driver’s championship winning team, West Surrey Racing, announced a new lead driver in Andy Priaulx. Priaulx is a former British Hillclimb Champion, three time World Touring Car Champion and one time European Touring Car Champion. His best showing in two seasons in the BTCC was 5th so he will have something to prove.

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Priaulx and WSR owner / manager Dick Bennetts revealed the new 2015 BMW 125 they will use next season, resplendent in the livery of the team’s new sponsor, IHG Rewards Club. Whilst a privateer team WSR receive much support from BMW.

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Ariel revealed their new Nomad off road vehicle. Capable of 0 -60 in only 3.4 seconds and weighing only 670KG it promises to be a riot. On sale this coming summer it is expected to cost in the region of £30k.

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A notable feature of the show is the annual display of the previous year’s F1 cars. Here is a close up of the nose of Lotus’ last car. Most teams have the same ugly “prong” nose, only Lotus have “prongs” of different length. Presumably there are sound engineering reasons for the asymmetry – not that it did them much good last season..

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As a boy I loved the Ford Escort RS2000 – the car of choice for Bodie and Doyle in TV crime fighting series “The Professionals”. This immaculate example reminds us that the RS2000 was not just a pretty face but was, like its famous predecessors, a great rally tool as well.

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A new feature this year was the opportunity to take passenger rides in a Ginetta G40 around a tight indoor course.